Barbados’ fiscal consolidation programme is sharp but absolutely critical, says this island’s Minister of Finance, Christopher Sinckler.

He made the comments recently when Senior Fellow and Director Emeritus of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, Dr. C. Fred Bergsten, paid him a courtesy call at his office at Government Headquarters.

Mr. Sinckler said Government was working diligently to get the country out of the current economic challenges, but acknowledged that it was not easy.

???The structural reform of our economy can bring tremendous advantages but it is a painful exercise… We need to restructure and rebuild the base of our economy because we don’t want to do these restructuring programmes every 10 years,??? he stated.

The Minister noted that Government was working with its stakeholders in the tourism industry to lead a resurgence in that sector and identified increasing the number of hotel rooms as one area being pursued.

Stressing that Barbados had always done well at the higher end of the tourism market, he explained, however, that the necessary changes had not been made in the industry, and as a result, the economic recession had a tremendous effect on it.

In an effort to grow the Barbados economy, Mr. Sinckler said Government was rejuvenating the international business and financial services sector, as well as revitalising the sugar industry to make it more attractive for persons to cultivate sugar cane.

???In addition, we are pushing the renewable energy sector and we just passed critical pieces of legislation; so we are breaking new ground in that area,??? he declared.

During the discussions, Dr. Bergsten asked the Minister a series of questions to ascertain Government’s plans to successfully bring Barbados out of this economic crisis.

Dr. Bergsten will participate in the first-ever Caribbean Economic Forum at the Grande Salle, Central Bank of Barbados, on Wednesday, February 19, beginning at 8:00 p.m.

The Washington-based Peterson Institute, of which he was a founding Director, is the only major research institution in the United States devoted to international economic issues, and it has been described as ???the most influential think tank on the planet???.??

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