With rumours presently rife in the country, the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) today denied that an approach had been made by the Freundel Stuart administration for Barbados to enter into a formal IMF programme.
The rumours first surfaced last Friday and were alluded to by Opposition Leader Mia Mottley during a political meeting of her Barbados Labour Party (BLP) on Sunday night.
Addressing a large gathering at Top Rock, Christ Church, Mottley warned that the recent temporary suspension of trade in Barbados dollars by Guyana’s central bank – which also suspended trade in the Trinidad and Tobago currency – could be a sign that this island, which was previously forced to enter into a structural adjustment programme with the IMF in 1990s, could be headed back there again.
“The Guyanese stopped taking our currency in 1991 just before Barbados and Sandiford, under the Dems [Democratic Labour Party], went to the IMF,” Mottley said, while reminding supporters of the mass protests that eventually led to the fall of the Erskine Sandiford (now Sir Lloyd) Government in 1994.
She also alluded to the rumours of Government entering a new arrangement with the IMF, suggesting that Government might have already committed, or was about to commit Barbados to some form of financial bailout arrangement without announcing it publicly.
“Tell us what you are doing, or have already done in our name, because it is not for me, the Leader of the Opposition, to tell this country, but it is for me to make sure that the people of this country are told,” she urged Government.
“If things are being done in our name, if things have been done in our name, you have a duty to come to the people of this country and tell us the truth, and tell us how bad it is.
“That is the least that they must do as those who lead this country,” she insisted.
However, when asked directly by Barbados TODAY if the Barbados Government had indeed requested a formal programme, the IMF responded through its Senior Press Officer Raphael Anspach today saying that “no such request has been made”. Therefore, there was no need for consideration of any IMF conditionalities at this time.
Efforts to reach Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler for comment were unsuccessful.
However, Sinckler is on record as saying that there was no need for any public anxiety that Barbados would be forced to devalue its currency and enroll in an IMF programme to address the country’s fiscal challenges.