Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler tonight dismissed critics of the Freundel Stuart administration’s handling of the economy, saying that the Government’s confidence has not been misplaced.
Addressing the official opening of a branch of First Citizens Bank at The Walk Shopping Mall in St Thomas tonight, Sinckler said he was aware of many people who were “counting on Barbados to fail and to fall”.
“There is nothing wrong with that because the environment in which we operate is so unforgiving and so tough in terms of the international global environment for economy and finance across the world,” he said.
He added: “There were many predictions that our instability as a country and a region would continue and that recovery can only be possible if we, as Caribbean people and, right here in Barbados, if we as Barbadians, had thrown our sweaty night caps into the air and declare defeat and scamper off wimpishly to Washington D.C for a bail-out from some international financial institution,” he said.
However, Sinckler said there were more people who had faith “in our ability as a people to face our problems and find homegrown solutions that address those challenges in a way that does not decimate our society”.
Pointing to the most recent Central Bank report on the economy’s first quarter performance which reported that growth had returned, Sinckler stressed that the Government’s fiscal policy was working and that the economy continued to show positive signs of recovery.
“I can say with some degree of sincerity that our confidence in ourselves has not been misplaced. Indeed, while the mission is far from over . . ., our strides are getting fuller, our strength more lasting and our chances for ultimate success more sure,” he said.
He said the opening of First Citizens’ sixth retail branch was seen not only as a demonstration of the confidence of the operators in the long term viability of the local economy, but also the future prospects of the further development of the country.
He pointed out that the island’s international business and financial services sectors remained strong, with Barbados rated among the top five jurisdictions for Canadian firms to do business.
Trinidad-based Group Chief Executive Officer of First Citizens, Karen Darbasie, said that as the bank continued to increase its presence across the island, the intention was to continue to “build a solid reputation while forming partnerships.
“We are confident that our presence will yield nothing less than a successful bond between Barbados and the First Citizens group,” she said.
The banking executive said that institution recorded a before tax profit of TT$772.6 million for the financial year ending September 2014, a 3.7 per cent compared to the previous year. The bank’s total assets reached TT$34.9 billion, while the capital base increased by 4.7 per cent to reach TT$6.24 billion.
Darbasie said: “Rest assured that our management and staff are dedicated to maintaining and surpassing this level of financial performance, especially in an environment where other commercial banks are closing some of their branches and cutting jobs”.