The President of the Barbados Private Sector Association (BPSA), Alex McDonald, believes a major focus for Barbados should be on achieving substantial economic growth and proving wrong what international ratings agencies have had to say in their assessments of the island.
Achieving this, he said, would require everyone to get on board.
Commenting on the International Monetary Fund’s latest economic assessment of Barbados, following its recent Article IV Consultation, McDonald told Barbados TODAY he felt the country needed to take what the IMF had to say “and make it better”.
“I think a lot of our time should rather be spent in understanding why we have gotten the report we have gotten and what elements we have to move to make it better, because, despite what we may like to think, the IMF’s opinion does have a lot of weight on the international market, so too do the international ratings agencies.
“They have gotten it wrong [before] and we agree, but I think that people still turn to the IMF and the international rating agencies to get the first pass on what is going on. I think the biggest job that we can do now is to prove them wrong by finding ways to collaborate and work with each other to change the economy and move it forward and get ourselves out of this hole,” he added.
The IMF said the economy was improving and projected growth this year of one per cent after revising upwards a previous forecast of 0.8 per cent. However, the Washington-based lending agency underscored the need to rein in Government spending, especially on salaries and wages, and also reform of the public sector to improve efficiency.
McDonald said a collaborative approach was needed between the private sector, the Government and the labour movement, as it was “the only way we will move this agenda forward”, placing the economy on a path of sustainable growth.
McDonald said the private sector remained in “a bunker mode” and businesses were not investing as heavily as they would like. He said it was hard to restore confidence given the prolonged period of sluggish economic performance.
“The confidence that we speak about it is harder to strike it up. I think the only way that confidence can be built and strengthened if it is growing, is by consistently hitting the numbers that we are supposed to hit, by consistently doing what we are supposed to do as a nation,” he said.
McDonald threw his support behind the Barbados Employers’ Confederation (BEC) in its call for Government to introduce a major capital works programme.
“I think America invested its way out of its fiscal position by a lot of government-related spending in infrastructure. Is that the right thing for us to do? We should debate it. We should talk about what is the likely knock on effect,” he said.
“We do know that construction is a major player in our economy. We know tourism is also. We know the services sector and international business sector are very important. So attending to those revenue earners. We do hope as well that some ease in our taxation will be coming,” he added.