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Senior Technical Advisor to the Barbados Government, Dr. Kevin Greenidge.

More growth expected if COVID brought under control: Dr. Greenidge

SENIOR Technical Advisor to the Barbados Government, Dr. Kevin Greenidge, believes that in spite of the shutdown, Barbados can still see economic growth if Barbadians work together during this time. He was speaking during a call-in radio programme on Sunday where he pointed out that the country is expected to add some $500 million this year to the economy and is chalking up losses of around $150 million during the February lockdown.

“So we’ll get 2021 looking better than 2020? Yes, but the truth is we can get more. And it depends on what we do. That’s why this is so critical. If we could get this COVID thing under control and open up with a bang where we have Government putting all measures in place to bring forth capital projects and do what we have to do to get the economy going, and the hotels and businesses take the various assistance programmes to prepare, when the world opens up then we can grow even more.”

Dr. Greenidge stressed that each Barbadian has a key role to play during this COVID period. “I don’t get too much into commentary in terms of social things, but if I leave my home in this period and I’m exposed, it means that I have put stress on the system and reduced even how small the probability of getting this thing out of control.

“Reverse the other way, if I do what I have to do, each one of us does what public health officials are saying we have to do, each one of us adheres to the protocols, we improve the chances that we will be successful again and get this thing under control. Each one of us will be improving the chances that our neighbours or friends, people who have lost jobs, etc. get opportunity to earn a livelihood going forward. That’s why this is so critical,” he said.

The senior economist also responded to a suggestion that Barbados should move away from tourism. Noting that tourism is the country’s main source of economic activity at the moment, accounting for 60 per cent of the country’s foreign reserves and constituting 40 per cent of the country’s GDP, he said it would be difficult to replace.

“We have to diversify, but not diversify when people talk about replace. We have to widen the economic base, which is what the Government and what we are focusing on. You widen within tourism and you widen outside of tourism. This is why you see in terms of agriculture, the tremendous expansion even in the face of COVID.

“That expansion of agriculture reflects a number of initiatives coming out of the Ministry of Agriculture, including moving from bulk sugar to direct consumption, etc., to widen that based under the umbrella of food security not to replace tourism.

“You have to face the reality of small size. So you diversify smartly, diversify into  energy, reduce energy costs, you diversify manufacturing in key areas... but the focus shall not be thinking about replacing tourism because you asked me how you would do it, I would ask you how you would do it. What it is you’re going to find to replace; we have to diversify within the tourism sector and also the basis of others.

“Whether you are into tourism or agriculture, you are a small, open economy and imports will always be a large part of your bill. So we face reality and be smart about how we do it.” (JH)

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