Barbadians will be shocked at the size of the economy when information is released on its performance soon, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler said today.
Insisting the economy was not in danger, Sinckler told Parliament a report compiled by his ministry with support from the International Monetary Fund had found that the situation was not as dire at the Opposition Barbados Labour Party was portraying.
“I know the Leader of the Opposition is always talking about the size of the economy and how much it shrank. One body said it shrank by 27 per cent. Well we have done a complete analysis aided and assisted by the International Monetary Fund’s Fiscal Affairs Department, the experts on GDP [Gross Domestic Product] and they have sorted that out and we are very shortly going to issue that GDP series to tell people what the real size of the economy is and how it has risen by size over the last ten years and it is going to shock a lot of people,” Sinckler said in his contribution to debate on the Banks’ Tax on Assets 2017 Bill during this afternoon’s sitting of Parliament.
Opposition Leader Mia Mottley had earlier demanded that Sinckler and Prime Minister Freundel Stuart address pertinent issues relating to the economy, insisting she would “not participate in long or protracted debates in circumstances where the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance are not prepared to answer the legitimate concerns of Barbadians”.
However, while Sinckler did not reveal when the GDP analysis would be released, he was adamant that neither his office nor the Central Bank of Barbados had withheld information from the public.
“We don’t hide information. In fact I can say without fear of contradiction that the Central Bank at present, whether you like the Governor or don’t like him, the fact is that under the current leader of the Central Bank, more information can be gleaned on the Barbados economy from their website and releases than at any period of time in the history of Barbados and that is simply a fact, so no one is hiding information on the Barbados economy. When the information comes due we will release it,” he stressed.
The minister also gave little credence to the recent downgrade by the Caribbean Information and Credit Rating Service (CariCRIS), which lowered its rating on the debt issue of US$300 million to CariBBB from CariBBB+ and its foreign and local currency rating from CariA- to CariBBB+.
Sinckler suggested the rating agency was insignificant and no attention should be paid to it.
“All of a sudden, CariCRIS which nobody pays attention to has become a big expert on the Barbados economy. The Leader of the Opposition said the Jamaica Money Market Brokers issued a release to sell Barbados bonds. Well . . . how are the bonds trading? Has there been a sell off of Barbados bonds since the Jamaican Money Market brokers advised persons to sell off the bonds? You all does really take these people seriously? Because the people who hold Barbados bonds not taking them seriously,” Sinckler argued.