Amid mounting calls for the Freundel Stuart administration to enter into a formal International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler is assuring that yesterday’s visit to his office by an IMF team is well within the norm,
“It is a courtesy call. The IMF usually comes to do the Article IV. They are not doing the Article IV yet. Between the Article IV we have staff visits where they come down and meet with staff, they collect data, talk about things like the Budget, the Estimates and so on. And they are doing that this week,” Sinckler told reporters this afternoon following yesterday’s meeting with officials of the Washington-based financial institution.
He reported that the team, which is led by the IMF’s deputy division chief for the Western Hemisphere Department, is here collecting data ahead of its yearly Article IV Consultation on the country.
“They usually pay a courtesy call on me at the beginning of the session and at the close. So they will probably be back at the end of the week,” he added.
Government is currently struggling to lower its high debt in the order of 140-160 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) and its fiscal deficit of 5.8 per cent of GDP.
Following a visit to the island last May, the IMF reported that the island’s economy appeared to have turned the corner with activity picking up, but since then the overall fiscal position has worsened, triggering calls by several leading economists for the island to embark on a structured IMF arrangement.
However, to date the Stuart administration has been reluctant to accept that advice, with many Barbadians still seething over their last taste of bitter IMF medicine back in the 1990s, which is also seen as the straw that broke the back of the then Democratic Labour Party administration.