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Private sector not saying which growth forecast it believes

A leading organization representing the interests of Barbados private sector today indicated it will not be drawn into any discussions on whose prediction of economic growth for the country this year is correct – the Government’s or the Caribbean Development Bank’s.

However, Chairman of the Barbados Private Sector Association Alex McDonald has advised that unless development projects outlined by the Freundel Stuart administration start within the next four months, then business confidence could start to wane and economic growth would be impacted.

“The CDB is making its prognostications partly based on the past and partly based on what they see the future being. I can’t really comment on that. What I can comment on is what we have said in the past,” said McDonald, when asked for a comment on the stark difference between the Central Bank of Barbados’ and the CDB’s projected growth rates of 1.8 per cent and 0.9 per cent respectively.

“I said at the start of the year that our growth and confidence will be on how quickly those projects actually start. If by June of this year we don’t see material starts, business confidence I think will start to drop again,” he told a news conference this afternoon.

McDonald explained that different economists would have “different views about different things from where they see it”.  “An economist I heard spoke of a 2.5 per cent growth and an economist I heard recently spoke of zero and negative growth,” he pointed out.

Saying the private sector was “very happy” for the current strong tourism performance, he acknowledged that the Central Bank’s economic outlook was based on a strong tourist season as well as construction activity related to the proposed development projects outlined by Government.

Expressing “delight” that construction of the highly anticipated Hyatt hotel was now awaiting the green light, McDonald said: “That would fit well into the timeframe that we hope for”.

He added: “But again, the sensitivity of the bureaucracy to its role in building business confidence is going to be crucial here. So if the bureaucracy does not see it is urgent to see these projects forward, that things have to follow the course at the regular pace, then I think we will get into the second half of the year not feeling as bullish as we were.”

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