Cabinet to meet on stimulus plan, reveals Estwick
Cabinet’s infrastructure committee could meet as early as next Friday to mull a new economic stimulus plan.
The initiative that is being piloted by chairman of the committee Dr David Estwick is fashioned after Japan’s, and aims to shift Government’s strategy for stimulating the economy from major projects to many small to medium-sized developments.
In making the announcement last night at the St James South branch meeting of the Democratic Labour Party, Dr Estwick said many of the large projects promised by Government had not come on stream as anticipated and it was time for a change.
He said preliminary discussions had already been held with Prime Minister Freundel Stuart on a stimulus.
“I’ve asked him to chair a meeting of the infrastructure committee – I’m hoping for Friday next week – so that we can sit down as a group and try to shift the strategy around, but I wanted him to do it as Prime Minister so that he would set the tone going forward, as to how we would resolve some of these issues,” he said.
“How many years [have] you been hearing of all the projects that were supposed to start? The start of those projects is not under our control. We’re depending upon persons coming into Barbados and putting their monies in Barbados, so we can’t control how fast they do it, we can’t control some of the other variables that may result in several of the projects that we were supposed to get of the ground in operation.”
Back in March 2013, the Democratic Labour Party proposed a $600 million economic stimulus, just one month after it rejected a $90 million package suggested by the Barbados Labour Party in its election campaign.
Some economists had been critical of the plan, saying that the country simply could not afford it.
Meantime, Estwick has predicted that, given the economic problems facing many European states, tourism-reliant Barbados could expect moderate to anemic growth for some time.
“My concern would be the impact, given that that is our major source market for tourism, that might have on the country in a few months to come if things don’t turn around,” he said.
The minister further contended that Barbados needed to become a trade and tourism transshipment hub.
He argued that Barbados had failed to take advantage of its geopolitical strength, noting that the island is strategically positioned to access markets in Latin America, South America and the United States.
“ . . . Transshipment in terms of the manufacturing capacity and it’s now easy [access] across the Caribbean Sea to all those various countries. The same is true in terms of tourist traffic,” the minister added.