Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados Cleviston Haynes is to deliver the first quarterly review of the economy for 2020, the first comprehensive assessment since the job-crushing global pandemic.
Haynes is to present his review on Thursday at 9 a.m.
Since the Governor last addressed the public, the country’s main economic engine, tourism, has been thrown into its worst-ever crisis with more than eight of every ten hotels and tourism-related businesses closed.
And Minister of Finance Ryan Straughn revealed a record 24,000 people had applied to the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) since mid-March for unemployment benefits.
All this is occurring while the country is still in the middle of a structural adjustment programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
At the end of its mission in February, the IMF said Barbados had made “good progress in implementing its economic reform programme”.
The multilateral funding agency had some good news. It said: “International reserves reached US$740 million at the end of 2019, from a low of US$220 million in May 2018. The completion of the external debt restructuring in December 2019 has reduced economic uncertainty, and the agreed terms with creditors will help to keep public debt on a clear downward trajectory. On December 11, 2019, Standard and Poor’s upgraded Barbados’ foreign currency sovereign credit rating from Selective Default to B-.
“All indicative targets for end-December under the Extended Fund Facility have been met. The programme target for Net International Reserves was met by a wide margin, as was the target for the Central Bank of Barbados’ Net Domestic Assets. The primary surplus for the first three quarters of FY2019/20 amounted to almost five per cent of (annual) GDP, and Barbados is on track to reach the six per cent primary surplus target for FY2019/20.”
One of the other areas that the Central Bank Governor is expected to address is the call for Government to provide assistance to small and medium-sized businesses, many of who say they face collapse, if not provided with some kind of bailout.
Big businesses too have also indicated that they are facing a harsh environment caused by the shutdown of businesses and the halt to tourism.
Last week, president of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce & Industry Tricia Tannis hinted that more layoffs could be coming as businesses find it difficult to maintain staffing levels in an environment of business shutdowns, a national curfew, and a shuttered tourism industry.
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