Declaring that Barbados is on its way out of AN economic slump, Minister in the Ministry of Finance Ryan Straughn has said the country is on a path to prosperity, .
But, speaking at a Scotiabank client cocktail reception on Tuesday, Straughn insisted that the economy was not yet out of the woods.
Straughn said: “We have pulled this country back from the brink.
“In trying to get out of a hole we must first stop digging and then make sure we can pull everybody out as quickly as possible.
“We are on our way but there is still a lot of work to be done.”
Straughn said the economy had stabilised and that transformation was now taking place, adding that confidence in the Barbados economy was improving with the International Monetary Fund’s every “signal of validation”.
He said: “The confidence is changing with respect to the economy to the point where we are now seeing a fairly vibrant level of activity in the secondary market for trading of our newly issued securities.
“Therefore, while there has been an impact on the one hand, there is now a space where there is an opportunity for ordinary people, financial institutions to make the right decisions with respect to the risk profile.”
Straughn said Government was committed to wrestling all outstanding macroeconomic issues in order to “give the economy the opportunity to grow”.
And he said the financial services sector had a critical role to play in “mobilizing [financial] resources and energizing the growth in the economy”.
With the completion of the debt restructuring, bringing an end to the lingering fear of a credit downgrade, Straughn said he anticipated faster implementation of several projects come next year.
Straughn declared: “We have to be able to keep that consistent and continue to work to improve the systems in Government and work with stakeholders in order to modernize Government as quickly as possible such that decisions can be made quickly so that businesses and individuals can get on with planning their futures.
“We are not yet out of the woods but we are passing the right road signs,” he declared.
Pointing to the Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) programme’s raft of austerity measures, the economist who shares the finance portfolio with Prime Minister Mia Mottley, said BERT was designed to put the island on a journey to “restore the macro-economic fundamentals” that investors, residents and the region “had come to know Barbados for”.
He also predicted that with the debt restructuring having been finalized, he expected Barbados’ external credit ratings to start climbing soon.
Straughn said: “This is part of our way of saying to our partners – financial institutions, investors and certainly those internationally – that the Government of Barbados is committed to maintaining a level of macro-economic stability that will drive investor confidence, business confidence and consumer confidence to the kind of levels that will allow for greater economic growth to take place.”