Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Chris Sinckler, making his way to commence debate in the 2018-2019 Estimates of Expenditure and Revenue yesterday in the Lower House.

B’dos locked into growth

Dismissing opinions to the contrary, Finance Minister, Chris Sinckler, insisted that this island was “far away from a recession”.

In fact, he asserted that Barbados’ economy had “locked into growth,” recording 12 quarters of consecutive expansion since 2015.

Attributing the low one per cent growth of the Gross Domestic Product in 2017 to several factors, including the combined effects of a slowdown in tourism arrivals and reduced spending in the second half of the year, the delayed implementation of foreign funded investment projects and the impact of tighter fiscal policy, Sinckler stressed, “…it means now that our job is to get (the economy) to grow faster”.

Setting out the 2018-2019 Estimates of Expenditure and Revenue yesterday in the Lower House, he admitted that issues of the ten per cent unemployment rate, dwindling foreign reserves and the debt to GDP ratio were challenges that had to be addressed.

Sinckler spoke on the additional steps the current administration had taken to consolidate the country’s fiscal deficit, to dampen the demand for foreign exchange and to reduce government’s reliance on the Central Bank, including: the increase of the National Social Responsibility Levy from two to ten per cent, the introduction of a broad based foreign exchange commission to be charged on all sales of foreign currency at a rate of two per cent, the increase in excise tax on gasoline and diesel, the extension of tax amnesty, the imposition of a ten per cent across the board cut of government expenditure and the divestment of Hilton Hotel at Needham’s Point, outlining that some of these had borne fruit.

“Within eight months of the announcement of the above budgetary measures four of the six of these proposals previously identified have been implemented, representing a 66.6 rate of implementation and we fully expect that the remaining two, that is the sale of the said Hilton and the asset liability management exercise on the debt side with the National Insurance Scheme and the Central Bank of Barbados are continuing apace and will be implemented fully in due course,” he said. (JMB)

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