by Shawn Cumberbatch
Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Chris Sinckler is “disappointed” with the current state of the island’s economy and has put “the entire country” on notice he will soon be serving up some additional measures to solve the island’s “fiscal slippage”.
Sinckler kept plans for an adjusted Medium Term Fiscal Strategy, he conceded was now “off track”, close to his chest this evening during his first major statement on the economy since the Estimates Debate.
But he said following consultations with the Social Partnership and other interest groups not only would Government be taking new measures to better manage its finances, but the plan which would affect the entire country.
“Generally there really ought to be across the entire country a sense of fiscal discipline, a sense of financial discipline. As you know, not only governments have high debts and high deficits, individuals and businesses can as well and we all have to find ways in which to ensure that we adumbrate our ambitions to the extent where we can meet what we have to do constructively from what we produce,” the told the media during a lengthy Press conference at Government Headquarters.
“And that’s really the mantra, so to speak, that’s really the message which we have to give to the general public. But in the context of our own public finances, I can say from the Government’s perspective that we will in fact be bringing proposals to Parliament that will seek to bring our fiscal programme back on track.”
The minister said his ministry was in the process of revising the MTFS Central Bank of Barbados Governor Dr. DeLisle Worrell recently said needed changing and that the changes would involve major reforms.
He acknowledged that the situation in the country “is tough” and that the first quarter economic performance and the fiscal deterioration over the last year were significant setbacks.
But he insisted again that the problems were not entirely home grown.
“Naturally, we are all disappointed by this performance. However, we are mindful of the stark reality that even as our tolerance for low growth, and slow recovery wears thinner each day, the process of economic recovery to more sustainable levels of economic output will remain challenges by the continued difficult and uncertain external economic conditions we continue to grapple with,” Sinckler said.
“As international demand for our goods and services continue to be weak, and foreign direct investment flows still below pre crisis levels due to investor uncertainty, the knock on effect on the Barbados economy will remain strong and stimy our chances for a stronger recover.”
In the light of the challenges, Sinckler said Government had no choice but to take action, including getting back on track in “undertaking the structural reforms in our economy that will lay a solid and reliable platform for sustainable growth in the medium term”.
He also saw a need to “redouble our efforts at fiscal consolidation by undertaking further strategic reforms in the public sector, particularly the statutory entities currently owned by the people of Barbados”.
“It is against the backdrop of the present global economic and financial realities, that your government has established these objectives as the frame around which the country’s economic recovery must be based,” he said.
“Not based on quick fixes, feel good measures that give short term pleasure but long term pain, or unrealistic attempts to sell government and its assets to the highest bidder with the deepest pocks. But to set a solid medium term fiscal consolidation and economic growth programme that is flexible enough to accommodate adjustments to suit the dynamic changes in the global economy.
“To this extent we strong believe that our current strategy is the correct one for our type of economy in the current conditions,” he added.
Sinckler said while Government had not reached all its economic and fiscal objectives, the situation was not as bad as critics stated.
“Have we achieved everything that we wanted to achieve? Of course not. How could we in these circumstances? But if people are fair minded and we look at what we have to deal with, we know that there are major structural problems which we have to address, then we will deal with it,” he stated. [email protected]