A Government Senator is rejecting claims by the Opposition of a possible devaluation of the Barbados dollar.
Addressing Democratic Labour Party (DLP) supporters at the Princess Margaret Secondary School last night, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs Jepter Ince argued that a value could not be applied to the Barbados currency since it was not recognized internationally.
At the same time, he accused the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) of spreading propaganda and attempting to ignite fear among the public with talk of a possible money downgrade.
“You cannot devalue anything that has no value,” Ince asserted, adding, “I cannot travel with Barbados dollars when I go to the United States”.
However, he told residents of St Philip North that if there were anything to fear, it would be devaluation of the country under the leadership of the BLP.
“What are you [BLP] going to devalue? The only thing that you are going to devalue is the people of Barbados. That is the only thing you are going to destroy,” Ince said.
However, following recent confirmation by Central Bank Governor Dr DeLisle Worrell that the island’s foreign reserves had fallen to the lowest level in 14 years to $681 million, which is equivalent to 10.3 weeks of import cover, Ince acknowledged that foreign reserves were essential to stabilizing the local dollar and sustaining the economy. Nonetheless, he assured party supporters that there was no cause for concern at this time, given there were several projects slated to come down the pipeline.
“Now the foreign reserves [are] where we want them,” Ince said, while also contending that “there is no reason to go to the market to borrow money for foreign reserves”.
He also rejected the economic advice of former Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Owen Arthur for Government to enter into a formal arrangement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), while accusing Arthur of having a hidden agenda.
“The former Prime Minister and Minister of Finance has an agenda, so when he says to us go to the IMF and get funding, he knows very well that you only go the IMF when you have balance of payment problems, . . . . When you cannot meet your foreign reserves requirement is when you go to the IMF. The IMF doesn’t give you no money for any infrastructure development,” Ince warned.
The Government Senator also downplayed suggestions that Government was not doing enough to spur economic growth, saying, “People believe that all of a sudden this economic growth is going to come from local activity.
“Tell me what we have in Barbados. We have no gold, no copper, no barley; we have no wheat. The only thing we have is our people,” he pointed out, adding that Government was prepared to stick with its economic plan.
“We must continue to export, continue to build our manufacturing sector, continue to improve our tourism product,” he said.