Prime Minister Freundel Stuart now has in hand the reports of the recently established fiscal deficit and foreign reserves working groups, set up to advise him on the way forward for the ailing economy.
However, so far officials have been tightlipped on the contents of the two documents, which were hastily produced following a two-week deadline issued by Stuart at the year’s first full Social Partnership meeting on Friday, March 3.
“I can confirm that the deficit committee has submitted its first report to the Prime Minister,” one official told Barbados TODAY Wednesday afternoon.
“We need to give the Prime Minister enough time to see it and show it to Cabinet before we go public with it. We will go public with it in time. We just want to show the right respect,” the official added.
Official sources also confirmed that chairman Peter Whitehall had handed in the report of the foreign reserves working group, ahead of next Friday’s meeting of the Social Partnership sub-committee, at which the two reports are to be considered.
All indications are that the Barbados economy is seriously in the red, with tough decisions now needed to pull it back from the brink. Just last week, the Central Bank released the latest Financial Stability Report which showed that while there was signs of recovery with growth of about 1.6 per cent last year and a slight fall in unemployment, the fiscal deficit was simply still too high and remained a source of concern.
The report also raised concern that Barbados’ debt was further downgraded by international ratings agencies during the year, causing a reduction in the financial institutions’ appetite for domestic Government debt.
“At the same time reserve levels fell [below $700 million] to around the equivalent of ten weeks of imports of goods and services,” it added.