The Barbados delegation to the Annual Meetings of the IMF and World Bank, led by Finance Minister Chris Sinckler, met with representatives of the IMF and ratings agencies Standard and Poor’s and Moodys, to explain Barbados’ economic strategy in depth. The delegation pointed out that the balance of external payments had been stabilised, and as a result there was no decline in the foreign reserves of the country, and the exchange rate remained secure. Mainly because of weak economic performance in the UK and US, there has been little real growth, and government has increased taxes and cut spending to ensure that Barbadians’ imports do not exceed the available foreign exchange inflows. The growth prospects for the economy rest with actual and projected private investment in tourism, and with marketing initiatives in tourism and international business services. These initiatives are supported by government investment in the ongoing upgrade of infrastructure, and by programmes to further increase the productivity of labour and the quality of services.

{FILE IMAGE} The delegation also met with a number of investment bankers’ representatives. They all indicated that Barbados continued to have good access to international capital markets despite the downgrade by Standard and Poor’s, and that the prices of Barbados bonds have not been affected by the downgrade.

Minister Sinckler and Central Bank Governor, Dr. DeLisle Worrell participated in a meeting of IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim with Caribbean delegations. That meeting welcomed the interest of the management of the Fund and Bank in the development of small states, and the establishment of small states fora in both institutions. The Caribbean delegations pointed out that it is especially costly for small nations to build resilience to their vulnerabilities, and suggested this should inform criteria for eligibility and the design of funding facilities. They also pointed out that the resumption of economic growth in the Caribbean depends on the resurgence of the foreign exchange earning activities, and that the devaluation of exchange rates is to be avoided, because it depresses living standards and does not promote growth.

For the plenary session of the Annual Meetings, Finance Minister Nasim Burke of Grenada tabled a statement on behalf of Caribbean countries, outlining the Caribbean priorities for the work of the IMF and World Bank. The statement may be downloaded HERE.

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