Barbados is in the midst of a massive “investment boom” bolstered by tremendous confidence in the management of the country’s economy and society, says Junior Finance and Economic Affairs Minister Marsha Caddle.
On Sunday evening she argued that dedication to infrastructural development, utilities, and key social services by the Mottley administration has left both local and international investors eager to take a chance in the current climate.
This, she says, is evidenced by huge spikes in capital goods and industrial raw materials.
During a presentation entitled Unpacking the Estimates held at the Tweedside Road constituency office of the St Michael South Central constituency, Caddle argued that despite significantly reduced expenditure from Government, the private sector was about to bolster real economic growth.
This, she said is fuelled by an investment environment which is “among the most coveted in the world”.
“We are already seeing the early results of these improvements in the investment climate and what we are seeing right now is an investment boom. Up and down this country, hundreds of people are investing and taking chances that they have not done before, because they did not have the confidence to do it before. I can’t tell you the number of people who said to me they have been holding back but are now going forward because the economy is better,” Caddle disclosed.
She added that sharp increases in “everyday imports” like food, drinks, and clothes have increased by six per cent in January this year as compared to last year, while items like fridges, washing machines, and cars – difficult items to sell during a recession – have jumped by 40 per cent.
Most importantly, Caddle added that imports on capital goods and raw materials used to invest have skyrocketed to $59.7 million, a 35 per cent jump and the highest in the past ten years.
“It says to me that people are investing because I am not buying any heavy machinery or fuel… This occurs when people are expanding their production and coming in to establish new production. We know the investment is happening in this country because these imports are about building export capacity,” the Minister explained.
Caddle admitted that the Government simply does not have the means to produce millions of dollars in investment needed in new areas of potential growth like medical and educational tourism, medical cannabis, renewable energy, affordable housing, and agriculture.
She noted, for example, that the volume of investment needed to turn landfills into renewable energy facilities is more than the Government’s total capital budget and is well beyond the capital investment that any Government could provide.
“The private sector drives growth and we must ensure that the conditions are right for the thousands of local and international investors, whether small, medium or large, to make the thousands of investment decisions to sow a seed, invest in the future and spend some money today creating some capacity for tomorrow,” she added.
Meanwhile, Caddle pledged Government’s commitment to investing in community empowerment, healthcare, utilities, education, and infrastructure.
“When people are looking for a jurisdiction to invest in, they want to know that all of those things are in place. They want to know that all of those things are in place or else they’re not coming here… and all of these are the kinds of vital investments that are being made and accounted for in the estimates.