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PM not bothered

stuart says standard & Poor’s downgrade is only their opinion

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart “is not perturbed” by Standard & Poor’s decision to downgrade Barbados and he is urging Bajans not to be alarmed. “We respect the opinion of Standard & Poor’s, but we don’t agree with it and that is where I stand on the issue,” Stuart told the media this afternoon. The Prime Minister, speaking at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre following a LIAT Press conference, said there was no need for “hysteria” or “excitement”, even though the island’s rating, as ascribed by the credit rating firm was now considered “junk”. “I am not perturbed by the expression of the opinion of the rating agency. Standard & Poor’s did not find fault with anything the Government is doing, it did not criticise the policy initiative which we have put in place, it did not say that the Government is doing the wrong thing, what it said was that events beyond Barbados’ shores and therefore events outside of Barbados’ control could cause Barbados’ economic performance to weaken,” he said. “So I just want to say to the people of Barbados that there is no cause for alarm. Understand that the rating agency expressed an opinion in the same way that the Opposition party is expressing an opinion, an opinion not unlike the one that they have expressed in the recent Budget debate, but the Government has matters under control in the context of our plan to restructure the economy and to ensure that the quality of life of Barbadians is not impaired. “Barbados has been able to control its unemployment to just around 11 per cent, we are bringing our deficit down to under five per cent and all of the services that we have been providing to the people of Barbados have been continuing unimpaired … and it is the determination of the Government to continue on that path,” he added. Stuart having read the S&P report himself, it was clear the agency was expressing an opinion “as they are entitled to do”, but he pointed out that under the previous Barbados Labour Party administration, when the world was “a very stable and bright place”, S&P had amended its ratings in 1999, 2004, and 2005. “Now the world today is going through its worst crisis in 100 years, Standard & Poor’s downgraded the economy of the United States of America. Nearly all the countries in Europe got their credit ratings downgraded because we are living in a very difficult world,” he asserted. “If in the context of living in a world as difficult as the one in which we now live, the worst crisis in a hundred years, … the economy of Barbados is put under scrutiny and Standard & Poor’s comes to the conclusion that Barbados should be downgraded it’s their opinion … and I can accept that, they are entitled to an opinion and what unites all human beings is that for good or ill, wisely or unwisely, sensibly or foolishly we are all entitled to an opinion. “Now there is another rating agency which last year downgraded our credit rating, that was an opinion then as well. That same agency had a different opinion this year, so that’s the realm we are in,” he added. (SC)

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