The $600 million economic stimulus announced last week by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler is no gimmick and is being misunderstood by critics.
Leader of Government’s business in the Upper House, Senator Maxine McClean, today defended the programme, which features a series of projects, some of them funded by government alone, others jointly with the private sector, and the remainder exclusively by the private sector.
The stimulus exercise outlined by the current Administration has in recent days been criticised not only by the Opposition Barbados Labour Party but some economists.
But speaking this morning in the Senate as she led off debate on Appropriate Bill, which encapsulates the 2013-2014 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade said the intended state initiative was “not the grabbing of funds from any entity in total and bringing it to a number of projects, but really the timing and execution of a number of projects to be financed using … multiple means”.
“Reference has been made to a stimulus of about $600 million … and there has been much criticism … and while I don’t challenge the knowledge of economists, those who are politicians or otherwise…, what we have indicated as a government is that as we go forward in this next five year term our intention is to ensure the commencement or the continuation of a number of projects which will serve to stimulate activity in the economy,” she said.
“What I have not heard is that this Administration is going anywhere and borrowing or finding or getting its hands on a lump sum of money in the name of the administration. In other words, Government is not going out there to borrow.
“What I understand is that several projects were identified, some of them budgeted for in these Estimates, some of them to be financed by private public sector partnerships or by the private sector, and therefore they will serve to generate activity.
“In some instances we are talking from the perspective of Government about the continuation of road rehabilitation or road development projects, we are talking about the continuation of our housing initiatives, some of those financed by private sector entities,” she added.
The minister noted that “a lot of these projects will be financed by foreign direct investment, which means foreign exchange comes in, but I believe that those who have been speaking, and I haven’t heard all, … but the bit that I have heard and read seems to have suggest perhaps a misunderstanding of the process by which those projects will come into place”.
“These projects are not intended to be short term stimuli, in other words a put money in your pocket thing, where this is notion ‘we are going to give you money to spend on consumables’, but rather we are going to undertake part of that restructuring of the economy through the creation of a number of initiatives which would serve to facilitate new business opportunities etcetera and certain infrastructural developments, which have not only short term but medium and long term benefit,” she stated. (SC)