Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss has said Government would have to work even harder this year than it did last year to pull Barbados out of the recession.
However, Inniss said he was optimistic that the economy would improve this year after “strong efforts” last year to steady the country’s financial state.
He based his optimism on a number of Government development programmes due to materialize this year, singling out tourism-related projects, all of which Inniss said would create some opportunities.
Describing 2015 as an interesting year in which both Government and the private sector worked hard to ensure economic activity, Inniss said he was satisfied that the island was ready to experience favourable economic growth.
“We have seen a few new entities being created, a few expanded, we have seen some mergers and acquisitions – some of small ones and then some on the larger scale like we have seen recently with Banks Holdings Limited.
“We have certainly seen a kind of awakening of the banks in terms of their role in commerce with interest rates and other facilities that they are offering. We continue to see the state redefining its role in the economy. Certainly we are grateful to have seen a leveling off of reduction in state expenditure towards salaries that would have led to the laying off of staff.
“So I would say that 2015 has been a year that Barbados seemed to have finally started to settle down in terms of its economic challenges that have plagued us for the last couple of years,” the minister said in his assessment.
Inniss revealed that his ministry would unveil several initiatives in the first quarter of the year for the revitalization of micro and small businesses. He added that the ministry would become “somewhat a paperless ministry” by the middle of the year as it embraced information and communication technology.
“It is an arduous task but I have given the staff six months to totally transform the ministry in that respect,” he said.
“2016 has got to be the year where Barbadians realize that it cannot be business as usual. It is our 50th year of Independence and each one of us is going to ask ourselves what does that means to us. I expect that we are really going to be moving ahead in this economy on all cylinders,” the minister concluded.