The latest economic review by Central Bank Governor Cleviston Haynes is not a true reflection of the current state of Barbados’ economy.
So says Leader of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP), Dr Ronnie Yearwood, who has disagreed that the country’s economic performance is close to the pre-COVID levels.
In giving the review the Central Bank Governor said the country’s gross domestic product had grown by 10 per cent in 2022 and was expected to increase by between four to five per cent this year.
Haynes said with tourism occupancy at 90 per cent of 2019 figures it meant Barbados was returning to where it was before the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, in an interview with Barbados TODAY, Dr Yearwood maintained that those figures did not paint the real picture.
“At this particular moment we are optimistic about the 10 per cent but we also have to be realistic about where we are. It’s not about gloom and doom, but if we don’t paint the truth, the policies that we need to roll out will not align and this is something that Governments never seem to understand.
“You have to paint the correct picture so that the policies that you want align to get us where you want. When you try to hedge and smudge the actual story then the policies don’t line up properly, the country doesn’t line up properly, the country doesn’t understand the heavy-lifting that we may need to do,” Dr Yearwood said.
“When you try to cherry-pick and paint that we have had 10 per cent growth, then come and explain that that 10 per cent doesn’t get us back to where we need to be. When you do the calculations the economy has only grown by 1.6 per cent. If you say that then, people understand that we have to get economic activity up. But if we don’t tell that story you are not giving the full picture and therefore your policy alignments are always going to be off.”
The DLP president said the Mia Mottley-led administration could not continue to blame the COVID-19 pandemic as other countries in the region had rebounded and were already performing at 2019 levels.
Additionally, he warned Barbadians to “keep an eye” on the upcoming Estimates, which would reveal Government’s intentions.
“Everybody is concerned about debt so we have to now keep our eye on the Estimates and what is happening there. Will Government be borrowing at record levels as it did last year, because if it is borrowing we know there is no real growth strategy involved there and really the Government is doing the exact thing it said it wouldn’t do: tax, spend and borrow its way out of economic problems rather than coming up with a serious growth strategy…,” Dr Yearwood said.
The DLP president also pointed out that even though Government was collecting additional revenue, Barbadians were not seeing the benefits. (RB)