Government is pushing ahead with rolling out initiatives in the Barbados Sustainable Recovery Plan (BSRP) 2018, in an effort to return this country’s economy to investment grade in an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable manner.
This disclosure has come from the Director of Research and Planning Unit in the Economic Affairs Division Patrick McCaskie, who said the BSRP 2018, is “a historic and emergency planning document” which was jointly produced by the Social Partnership, and is now being executed. He added that the Social Partnership Oversight Sub-Committee had met four times already to discuss the way forward with regard to the implementation of the BSRP.
Mr McCaskie noted that the BSRP 2018 takes account of the fact that Barbados is not just an economy, but a society, and therefore places the interest of people at the centre of its policy. “In this regard, the BSRP 2018 is anchored in maintaining the country’s fixed exchange rate parity of US$1 to BDS$2, while keeping people employed,” he stressed.
He explained that the path to achieving a return to steady-state equilibrium means that the economy’s macroeconomic indicators would have to trend back towards the pre-crisis period.
He said, for example, that prior to 2007, real GDP was above three per cent; and the net international reserves had peaked to well above 12 weeks import cover. He recalled that in 2007, the unemployment rate was around 7.4 per cent, and the fiscal deficit was more sustainable.
“With these kinds of structural deficiencies, the BSRP is seeking to have a very focused fiscal adjustment programme within the next couple of years.
The Medium-Term Fiscal Strategy will be completed by the end of June 2018, and its completion will coincide with the Debt Management Strategy, which will allow for a strong coordination mechanism between the macroeconomic and fiscal planning criteria,” he pointed out.
He indicated that the BSRP contains a set of tourism-related projects to the tune of just over $1 billion, and once those projects were started, there would be a tremendous inflow of foreign exchange to bring the reserve levels back up to a more comfortable state.
The Barbados Sustainable Recovery Plan emerged out of the 2017 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals.
After the full Social Partnership meeting last August, three working groups were established to cover Fiscal Reform, Growth and Sustainability, and Social Responsibility.
The vision of the Plan is to create “a society that is economically, environmentally and socially sustainable, with a return to investment grade”.
Its six broad goals are: to build a comfortable net international reserves level by 2020; achieve fiscal sustainability through a balanced budget by 2020/21; accelerate real GDP growth to reach 3.0 per cent by 2021; establish a credible and sustainable debt management plan; enhance and safeguard the provisions for social development; and reduce the unemployment level on average to 8.0 per cent by 2020.
Mr McCaskie noted that there are three co-chairs from each segment of the Social Partnership – Government, the private sector and labour – and two full members. Government’s co-chair is Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Darcy Boyce, while the members are Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Maxine McClean; and Minister of Commerce, International Business and Small Business Development Donville Inniss.
The private sector’s representatives are: Chairman of the Barbados Private Sector Association, Charles Herbert (co-chair); President of the Bankers’ Association, Donna Wellington; and Vice President of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Edward Clarke. Labour’s co-chair is President of CTUSAB, Cedric Murrell; while General Secretary of the BWU, Toni Moore; and President of the NUPW, Akanni McDowell, are the other members from labour.