BARBADOS-ECONOMY – Minister acknowledges reform programme “painful”
Finance and Economic Affairs Minister Chris Sinckler has acknowledged that the current economic reform programme being implemented by the Barbados government was “painful” but said it was necessary in order to put the island on a sound economic footing.
Government has started laying off workers as part of a retrenchment programme that would result in at least 3,000 public servants being sent home as the Freundel Stuart administration seeks to revive the ailing economy.
“The structural reform of our economy can bring tremendous advantages but it is a painful exercise… We need to restructure and rebuild the base of our economy because we don’t want to do these restructuring programmes every 10 years,” Sinckler said as he met with the Senior Fellow and Director Emeritus of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, Dr. C. Fred Bergsten.
A government statement Wednesday quoted Sinckler as saying that the government was working diligently to get the country out of the current economic challenges, but acknowledged that it was not easy.
He said the government was working with its stakeholders in the tourism industry to lead a resurgence in that sector and identified increasing the number of hotel rooms as one area being pursued.
Stressing that Barbados had always done well at the higher end of the tourism market, Sinckler however noted that the necessary changes had not been made in the industry, and as a result, the economic recession had a tremendous effect on it.
He said as part of the efforts to revitalise the local economy government was rejuvenating the international business and financial services sector, as well as revitalising the sugar industry to make it more attractive for persons to cultivate sugar cane.
“In addition, we are pushing the renewable energy sector and we just passed critical pieces of legislation; so we are breaking new ground in that area,” he said.
Dr. Bergsten will participate in the first-ever Caribbean Economic Forum on Wednesday, February 19 organised by the Barbados Central Bank.