Head of the Barbados Private Sector Association (BPSA) Edward Clarke has given the Mia Mottley-led Government thumbs up for the manner in which the administration has handled the first five months of Barbados’ structural adjustment under the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Noting that the last Government, of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP), had attempted home grown austerity, Clarke said that the difference this time around was stronger oversight and political will.
“For the last three years we have been preaching this concept of oversight to the last Government, so it is nothing new to us coming into the programme this time around. Under the BSRP [Barbados Sustainable Recovery Plan] there was a sort of oversight committee but it was not very effective and it became too big and cumbersome,” Clarke explained.
According to BPSA head, the independent nature of the monitoring committee for the IMF-approved Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) programme, is set up to hold Government to account.
“This time around we decided that we wanted to be part of the process. The creditors group decided that they also needed to be part of it. So when we were re-negotiating the debt-restructuring programme with the Government, the creditors insisted that they must be part of the oversight, which became the monitoring committee. We have no member of Government on this committee. Obviously we have some non-disclosure agreements but we are going to be reporting to the public mid-February the latest,” he said.
The BERT Monitoring Committee provides an avenue for the Barbados Creditors Group and the members of the Social Partnership to receive and review information from the Government on the progress of implementation and achievement of the targets under the (IMF) Extended Fund Facility of US$290 million and assists in ensuring that such targets were achieved,” the agreement stated.
Under the MOU, Government is to provide the BERT Monitoring Committee with information on the progress and performance on its macro-fiscal targets, and to assist in ensuring that those targets are achieved. The committee will also be provided with the Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies (MEFP) and will be required to advise the public of progress on the macro-fiscal targets in the programme and this would include relaying concerns to the public where appropriate.
Clarke also heaped praise on Prime Minister Mottley, noting that she has demonstrated strong leadership throughout the process thus far.
“We have strong leadership in the country at this time and I think that the Prime Minister has been a very good advocate of the programme,” the BPSA head, said, adding that IMF representative, Dr Kevin Greenidge has been very forthcoming with all of the data. “Dr Greenidge is the one who has the oversight to make sure that Government does the things it is supposed to do. He is making sure that data is provided to us on a timely basis so that we have access to the information that is needed,” Clarke added.
However Clarke explained that while this is a good start, Government must now move towards the next step bringing back growth to the economy. “We now have to ensure that we get growth because cost reduction does not grow anything,” Clarke stressed.