Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler Tuesday said he would quit rather than oversee a devaluation of the Barbados dollar.
With Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados Dr Delisle Worrell suggesting the possibility of devaluation amid a worrying decline in foreign reserves, and with Guyana recently suspending trade in the Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago dollar, the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) has been demanding answers from Sinckler and Prime Minister Freundel Stuart.
However, Sinckler made it clear today there was no way the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) would devalue the local currency.
“There is not going to be a devaluation of the Barbados dollar under this administration. If the next administration wants to devalue the dollar if they become the Government, that is their business. I would resign as Minister of Finance, but there will not be any devaluation of the dollar,” the Member of Parliament for St Michael North West told the House of Assembly.
The BLP has also suggested that the economic situation is so dire that the DLP-led administration would be turning to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout programme.
However, the Minister of Finance said that was not the case, insisting he had not authorized any discussions with the international lending agency.
He also suggested that contrary to Opposition rhetoric, the economy was growing, and he accused the BLP of spreading panic.
“What is the purpose of panic in an economy that is growing? What is the purpose for panic in an economy where unemployment is going down? What is the purpose for panic in an economy in which we have adequate resources to defend our currency? They may not be at the highest possible level. For sure, we have lost investment grade and we do not like that. Repeating it all of the time could depress Barbadians, but it suits some people’s purpose,” the minister said.
“If the deficit is not going down fast enough we would say so. We have never hidden anything from the public of Barbados where the economy is concerned,” Sinckler insisted.
The man who controls the country’s purse told Parliament that the Central Bank Governor would present his latest report next Tuesday, following which Stuart will address the Chamber of Commerce on the economy.
It is only then, Sinckler said, he would speak on the economy.
“I get a print out of the country’s reserves every day. It is not healthy for a Minister of Finance to note every decline or rise in foreign reserves. He can easily die of a heart attack based on the fluctuation of the reserves. When we receive the report from the Governor of the Central Bank, Stuart will give a full report on the economy. I will then speak to the people of Barbados and Parliament when the facts are out.”
In response to critics who say he not only lacks the necessary training in economics, but that his homegrown economic policies have been a failure, Sinckler recalled that former Prime Minister Erskine Sandiford (now Sir Lloyd) had been ridiculed by his many detractors because it was claimed he had no formal training in economics.
However, he said the then Prime Minister had stuck to the task of defending the dollar through a period of dwindling foreign reserves, and had declined to subscribe to the “economic theology” of the IMF, holding fast instead to homegrown solutions to economic problems.