‘All is well’
Despite moody’s triple drop, Inniss is upbeat about the country’s economic future
In the face of a three-notch drop in the Barbados Government’s bond rating, a senior minister says he is not overly worried and is, in fact, upbeat about the country’s economic fortunes.
In the first public statement from a Government official since Moody’s Investor Services announced the Ba3 to B3 downgrade yesterday, Minister of Commerce and
International Business Donville Inniss went as far as questioning whether the information on which that decision was based was up to date.
“I haven’t yet fully analysed the Moody’s report, but what I can say that jumps out at me is the question as to whether their analysis is based on stats available up until, maybe, March, or if it is really reflective of what has been happening in the first quarter,” he said late this evening as he addressed a private sector organization mixer at Hilton Barbados which was organized by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI).
“I am sure that in full time the Minister of Finance [Chris Sinckler] or the Prime Minister [Freundel Stuart] will address these issues with greater technical detail, but I will say from my end in the Ministry of International Business, Commerce and Small Business that we are feeling
Inniss insisted that Government had outlined a programme to stem the slide in the economy and put it on a sustainable path and it would continue to do so, but it should not be expected that it would happen overnight.
“Nobody ever said it was going to be an easy ride; nobody ever said it was going to be a seven-day wonder either. I am mindful, in the broader sense of the term, that Government’s revenues have not been as high as we all would have liked and our expenditure cuts, whilst going in the rate direction, may not have been going at the pace that some of these rating agencies and lending would have liked,” he said.
“But we are mindful that this is an economy and a society that we are dealing with, and there are those who would like us to quicken the pace and perhaps don’t appreciate the type of social dislocation that could occur in this society,” he told reporters this evening, noting that things had to be done in a measured manner.
As private sector bodies express concern about the impact of the Moody’s downgrade, the minister suggested that it remained to be seen whether the ratings agency’s report would put a damper on investment in Barbados.
However, he said, indications were that investors had renewed confidence in the economy and still wanted to put their money here.
Inniss said he saw that first-hand over the last two weeks as he visited Canada on investment promotion and trade matters.
“I can safely say to you that on the international business side there is a lot of interest in Barbados as a domicile for international business and financial services. As a matter of fact, a lot of the law firms and accounting firms that I would have met with have experience in dealing with Barbados and they also have clients who are very keen to make Barbados a part of their global structure,” the minister said.
He further disclosed that reports coming out of Canada suggested that Barbados continued or be the third largest recipient of foreign direct investment.
“Certainly within my ministry, we are seeing a greater level of stability and in some quarters even growth in some areas in the international business sector. So I don’t share the doom and gloom attitude that many in this society seem to want to have,” Inniss said.
The minister also took a turn in those whom he sees as revelling in the latest downgrade.
“What is most disturbing to me is how some individuals, in this society, would react with a great sense of joy over any negative thing that is put in the international arena about Barbados,” he said.
“There is not an ounce of patriotism on their part sometimes, as far as I am concerned. At a time when perhaps all of us should be showing a higher level of political maturity, there is this beating of the chest and rejoicing in a so-called downgrade of the Barbados rating.”