Friday, April 12, 2024

ON THE RIGHT: Achievement to be proud of


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MANY COUNTED ON BARBADOS to fail and to fall, and there’s nothing wrong with that because the environment in which we operate is so unforgiving and so tough in terms of the global environment for economy and finance.

And when confronted with the world’s worst economic and financial crisis in nearly 100 years, many would have been rocked as far as their confidence is concerned.

And indeed there were many predictions that our instability as a country could only be possible if we as Barbadian people had thrown our sweaty nightcaps, as Shakespeare would say, into the air, declared defeat and scamper off wimpishly to Washington DC for a bail-out from some international financial institution.

But those of us who have faith in our own abilities as a people to face our problems and to find home grown solutions that address those challenges in a way that does not decimate our society have worked hard enough to be able to ensure that the vision and the confidence which we knew was borne out by our tenacity would work. And that, of course, with the grace of God we can say today we are still in the battle fighting and winning.

Today, I believe I can say with some degree of sincerity that our confidence in ourselves has not been misplaced. Indeed, while the mission is far from over and the final destination is still some distance off, our strides are getting fuller, our strength more lasting and our chances for ultimate success more assured.

The report of the Governor of the Central Bank on the first quarter performance of Barbados’ economy coming behind what we would have seen last year I think that it is only fair to say that we have begun a turnaround in the Barbados economy and society.

The fact that our first quarter growth was just short of one per cent and predictions for between one and two per cent growth for the remainder of the year give us a degree of confidence that the policies we have adopted, the discipline that we have shown and the tenacity that we have will bear us out successfully in the end.

At the end of March the international reserves stood at $1.135 billion, representing 16 weeks of imports, up from 14 weeks at the end of 2014 and Government has achieved its revised fiscal target of 7.2 per cent of GDP for the fiscal year 2014/15 with a small primary surplus of $37 million, up from a primary deficit last year of $385 million. That in any language is an achievement of which we should be proud.

The economic recovery being witnessed is part of the steadfast discipline that we have applied in putting together a programme over the last 19 months to do a number of things: return stability to our foreign exchange market, bring our fiscal deficit down to more manageable levels, and to see a turnaround in relation to growth within our economy through the expansion of our critical sectors, those in particular that generate foreign exchange, but equally as well the domestic sectors.

The Government will continue every effort to bolster growth within the context of what we have to operate in, knowing that it is challenging and to facilitate institutional development via broad-based growth and strategic development objectives.

These views were shared last week at the official opening of First Citizens’ Bank new branch at The Walk, Welches, St Thomas.


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