A day after co-finance minister Ryan Straughn declared the economy back on track, his senior partner in the ministry – Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley – was joined in agreement with a top International Monetary Fund official.
IMF Deputy Managing Director Tao Zhang, one of the four deputy heads of the Washington-based international financial institution, affirmed the Prime Minister’s position after they met to discuss the implementation of the IMF-sanctioned Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) programme.
In an interview with the Barbados Government Information Service, Mottley said: “I think we are both satisfied that we are on track.
“The country hears me saying all the time that they need to stay the course and we have to stay the course, but we are happy with where we are going.
“We understand where we have capacity limitations and we are trying to fix them, in conjunction with the Fund, who really has been a good partner for Barbados, by allowing us to execute this homegrown programme in circumstances that are peculiar to our attributes as a small nation state and we are grateful for that.”
She praised the IMF officials for understanding that BERT is not a one-size-fits-all prescription for the country.
Two days ago, Government launched its external debt exchange, which is expected to close by the end of this month.
The Prime Minister said Barbados’ ability to put the debt restructuring exercise completely behind it would allow Government to move fully into the next stage of the BERT programme.
She said: “This would be to complete the structural changes that we have in our regulatory structure to make it easier, not just to do business, but for Barbadians to enjoy services that are delivered to them on a daily basis.
“Secondly, for us to focus completely on the projects that are necessary to do the transformation, be it the transformation of our people through the continuous training in the National Training Initiative over the next four years, or the physical infrastructural projects that are absolutely critical to both accessing services or the delivery of jobs in the tourism sector and other areas of the new economy, be it the medical cannabis or renewable energy.”
Congratulating the Government on its efforts to stabilise the economy and move forward with the reforms, Zhang said: “We are glad to be a part of the process, to be your partners and we remain committed to supporting and moving ahead together with you.
“As you said, there is a lot of work that needs to be done in the future, and we will remain as committed, as ready and as prepared to move ahead.”
The senior Government officials overseeing the economy, including Minister in the Ministry of Finance Ryan Straughn, Minister of Economic Affairs and Investment Marsha Caddle and Director of Finance Ian Carrington were joined by the IMF’s Director of the Western Hemisphere Department Alejandro Werner and Mission Chief Bert van Selm.
Zhang also attended the one-day 2019 Caribbean Forum on Regional Transformation for Inclusive and Sustainable Growth, which was hosted jointly by Government, the Caribbean Development Bank and the IMF.