Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley has defended her government’s position in suspending its debt prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ms. Mottley was addressing the media at a wrap-up meeting for the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) seventh and final review of the Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation Programme (BERT) under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) at Ilaro Court yesterday.
In thanking all who played a critical role over the last three and a half years for restoring some measure of stability especially at the macro-economic level, the Prime Minister noted that when government took the decision to suspend the debt, it was met with lots of criticism, but the debt suspension, she said, worked out in the island’s best interest.
“I sit here today conscious there, had we not done that debt restructuring and completed it in November 2019, God knows what would have happened to us. Technically, it was completed in December but God knows what would happen to us once COVID hit in early 2020.”
Ms. Mottley continued: “And the reality is, is that by being able to run the first surplus that this country had run in 10 years’… primary surplus of three and a half per cent and then a primary surplus of six per cent. It sounds like a lot of mumbo jumbo to the average person. But… had we not done the trimming down that we needed to do at that early stage, this country would not have been in a position to go through the last two years, especially with the decline that would have been foisted on us in 2020, which is now settled at about 14 per cent.”
Ms. Mottley highlighted that while under an IMF Programme, government had executed several projects with the help of key ministries in areas such as water, sewage and transportation as well as infrastructural projects including the construction of a new Accident and Emergency Department and the development of the Harrison Point Facility.
The Prime Minister said that the country was still not out of the woods as Barbados was part of a global community that was unstable, with threats emerging from the instability and disruption to the supply chain worsened by the crisis in the Ukraine. These threats, she noted, threatened the island’s recovery.
Meanwhile the IMF’s Mission Chief, Bert van Selm said following productive discussions, his team and the Barbadian authorities had reached a staff level agreement on completion of the seventh and final review under the EFF.
He said the agreement was subject to approval by the IMF’s Executive Board when it considers the review next month. The IMF team was in the island at the request of the Government from May 9-13.