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Business Monday: Upbeat about new year

12/31/2012

MINISTER of Finance, Christopher Sinckler is upbeat that the Barbados economy will improve in 2013.

He is pinning his hope for the improvement on both tourism and construction, noting that both sectors were poised to do better when compared to their performance in 2012.

The Minister told Business Monday that they are seeing some improvements in the current winter tourism season and that government intends assisting the Barbados Tourism Authority with a strong position in the summer season.

He said that this year’s summer season had been affected by the loss of airlift, including REDjet, as well as by the US presidential elections.

“But those challenges would not be there and we anticipate some improvements,” he remarked.

Improved activity in the local construction sector is also one of the factors expected to contribute to growth in the Barbados economy next year.

“Construction should pick up,” according to him.

Central Bank of Barbados data show that in the first nine months of this year Barbados had imported $115 million in construction materials for the industry, projections for housing developments and continuation of work on some current projects.

Imported construction materials are among the yardsticks used to gauge building activity in Barbados.

According to the figures, imported materials for the sector totalled $125 million for the nine-month period in 2011, and $116 million in 2010.

For the whole of 2011, imported materials cost the country $165.2 million, compared to $157.6 million.

The Central Bank of Barbados data have also shown that for the first nine months of 2012 the construction sector expanded by at least two per cent when compared to the same period a year ago. However, overall growth in the economy was under one per cent for the nine months and a one per cent expansion for the entire year depends on activity between October and December.

In the review for the nine months to September this year, Bank Governor, Dr. Delisle Worrell had indicated that residential building activity, along with private commercial and public sector projects, contributed to output in the sector. The projects also included work on a building for the Inter American Development Bank, a new housing development in St. Thomas and two luxury hotels.

One of the major projects currently ongoing is the new headquarters for the Barbados Water Authority.

The construction of new cruise ship facilities at the Bridgetown Port, estimated to cost $300 million, is also expected to gain momentum in the coming months.

The Minister said that they are still putting together financing for the project.

He declined to comment on the long-stalled Four Seasons project. It is understood that the final stage of a consortium getting involved is still being worked out.

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