Government is pressing ahead this year, with a number of initiatives aimed at spurring growth in the
island’s fledgling economy.
Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Chris Sinckler told a news conference this evening that the Freundel Stuart administration, having passed the Cultural Industries Development Bill, a suite of incentives for renewable energy and the Electric Light And Power Act last year, had laid the framework for the creation of two new foreign exchange and employment generating sectors.
These, he noted, represented the most significant efforts to restructure and diversify the local economy since the rise of the international business sector.
“We have acquired the Almond property and part of [that] is being used this winter season to earn foreign exchange and provide employment for Barbadians. Cabinet has also signed off on the proposed financing agreement for the build-out of the new Sandals Beaches with the Chinese government. The coastal works in preparation for the new Cruise Terminal at the Port has already begun, and we are working to finalize the financing for that project. Both the Inter-American Development Bank [IDB] and the Chinese government have expressed strong interest in financing the build out of the Pier Head Marina,” Sinckler revealed, adding
that the Cabinet would be making a final decision on a successful candidate in a matter of days.
He also reported that Government was at a “very advanced stage” of negotiations for the construction of a waste to energy facility at Vaucluse that will bring in excess of US$300 million into the local economy.
“Given the current challenges, financing arrangements can take longer than usual, but we are confident we can conclude negotiations at reasonable terms so that the economy can benefit from these crucial infrastructure projects 2014. The reconstruction of the track at Bushy Park has begun and the Ministry of Finance will this week sign off on the concessions to ensure smooth and quick completion of the facility in time for the big Top Gear Motor Racing Festival in May.
“We also know that a major new entrant into the construction sector will start operations during the first half of 2014 with the erection of the first alternative cement factory in Barbados. This will not only bring new foreign direct investment into the country, but also new technology that will drive down the price of cement,” the Minister of Finance said.
Plans were also well advanced for a 750 lower to middle class housing project at the Ridge in Christ Church, which the minister revealed should bring another US$50 million into the economy in 2014, all from private investment.
On the domestic side, Sinckler said by the weekend, his ministry will sign off on a public/private sector
partnership road rehabilitation project with the major road builders to kick start $50 million in work over the next two years.
“This together with a special private sector initiative called Adopt A Kilometre highway maintenance project where private sector companies will adopt and starting from the airport, promises to not only cut
Government’s expenditure on this process, but create jobs for persons who might be affected by the proposed retrenchments.
“These are only but a few major projects which we know will start in 2014, and together with other smaller ones will generate good levels of public and private investments to buttress our efforts to extract growth in our economy this year, even in spite of our strong fiscal adjustment programme,” the minister opined.
He further suggested that once the economy stabilized, Barbados would be able to restore its “modest but persistent rate of growth” which has underpinned its steady improvements in living standards since the 1950s.
“The growth rate is expected top firm up from 2015 onwards, to achieve an average on 2.5 to three per cent for the medium term,” Sinckler proffered. (RG)