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Rough seas

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart chaired the Social Partnership today as talks focussed on the economy. Discussants included (from left) Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler, Senator Sir Roy Trotman, and Minister Senator Darcy Boyce.

by Shawn Cumberbatch

Government is doing all it can to keep the Barbados economy afloat, but there are still challenges facing the country as it heads into 2013.

That’s the message the Freundel Stuart Administration delivered to the other members of the Social Partnership when the tripartite body met today at Hilton Barbados.

But sources who attended this morning’s discussions chaired by Stuart said the private sector suggested that more could be done to turn things around, while members of the trade union movement made it clear they were opposed to any measures which would negatively impact workers in the public and private sectors.

A Government official told Barbados TODAY that today was the latest opportunity for the current administration to “lay its cards on the table and it did just that”.

On the heels of recently reporting to the country that the Barbados economy was “stagnant” and that a lot depended on the 2012-2013 winter season, which is scheduled to start next month, Central Bank Governor Dr. Delisle Worrell made a presentation to the large gathering of Government, trade union and private sector representatives.

Sources said Worrell reiterated the importance of having adequate foreign exchange in the economy, and indicated the bank was open to alternative policy ideas.

A presentation was also made by the Ministry of Finance, after which “frank discussions on the current state of affairs took place”, an official stated.

Head of the Barbados Private Sector Association, John Williams, who led the private sector delegation at the meeting, said today’s talks were “a useful exchange of views”, and discussion on the challenges the economy and country were facing.

“It really was a meeting to share information on where we were,” he said.

An official said the meeting concluded with a promise to keep the Social Partners informed as efforts continued to “turn the economy around”.

In addition to the Prime Minister, Cabinet was well represented at this morning’s talks.

Those in attendance included Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler, Minister of Labour and Social Security Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, Minister of Education Ronald Jones, Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy, Minister of Industry Denis Kellman, Minister of Housing Michael Lashley and Minister of Transport and Works John Boyce.

Along with Williams, private sector representatives included BPSA Chief Executive Officer Anne Reid, Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association Executive Vice President Sue Springer, and the leadership of the Barbados Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

The trade union movement was also present, including Barbados Workers Union General Secretary Senator Sir Roy Trotman, National Union of Public workers President, Walter Maloney, and Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados General Secretary, Denis De Peiza.

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