Six months in office, the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) Government declares it has delivered on its promises, as Prime Minister Mia Mottley delivers her own report card to Barbadians.
Mottley today gave the country a laundry list of accomplishments in a ministerial statement. She boasted that foreign reserves had reached their highest level in four years, the dollar was no longer in danger of devaluation, debt to GDP ratio had fallen to 123 per cent and the country received its first credit rating upgrade in 15 years.
And while Barbados was not yet completely out of the woods, Government had met most of its goals thus far, she said.
“To say we have come a long and far way would be to make the understatement of the year,” the Prime Minister insisted as she addresed lawmakers in Parliament.
“What we assured the people of Barbados six months ago, was that we would work assiduously and selflessly to turn the outlook and the fortunes of this country around. We promised that we would stop the decay and decline. That we would stop the haemorrhaging, and that we would return pride to, and confidence in, the Barbadian brand.
“We promised six months ago, that we would bring Barbados back to where it belongs . . . in the region, in the world and in the psyche of Barbadians, living at home and abroad. I am proud to report this evening, using every yardstick and every other measure available to me, that this noble mission…has been accomplished. Barbados is punching once again above its weight division,” Mottley added.
While she once again expressed her regret at having to retrench hundreds of workers as part of the Barbados Economic Recovery and Transition Programme (BERT), she said several important targets had been met.
“The plan has halted and reversed the six-year slide in our reserves, which have jumped from just $400 million to over $1 billion. Indeed today our Gross International Reserves stood at $1.044 billion – the first time since 2014,” Mottley noted.
“Our dollar has been brought to safety…and in a few months we executed one of the largest exchanges of government debt as a percent of national income in world history. We will now save approximately $500 million of interest per year.
“As a result of this and the economic adjustments we have made, the Government will not need to borrow domestically for the next four years, and our debt levels have been put on a downward sustainable path. It has already fallen from approximately 170 per cent of national income to 134 per cent. If we use the new GDP numbers, as we must now, our debt to GDP ratio is 123 per cent Our goal is to get it below 100 per cent in five years,” she said.
Between April and November of this year Barbados’ gross tax revenues increased by $118 million compared with last year and expenditures fell by $322 million, leading to an improvement in the country’s fiscal position of $430 million, the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance told fellow MPs.
BERT had also seen international credit rating agencies give their support with the first credit upgrade in over 15 years, she added.
“As the first six months leave us, we have reached our milestone. The first bell can be rung. Barbados is back. This Christmas you can take a breather,” Mottley declared.
“But being back is not enough. The journey continues. We are on track, but there is much further to go.
“I cannot promise a rose garden in the next 12 months, but what I can say, is that I am confident that by December 18th 2019, fewer persons in this country will have reason to complain. Fewer persons would be without a job. Fewer persons will be living below the poverty line. Our infrastructure would have undergone a major overhaul and the standard of living of our people would continue to rise.”