McClean gives passing grade on economy

The Freundel Stuart administration has been given a passing grade by one of its own for its handling of the economy.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Maxine McClean also said Government had done well with labour and social issues facing the island.

Leading off debate in the Senate yesterday on the Appropriation Bill, 2016, McClean contended that the administration has had to operate during “a sustained period of economic and financial turmoil” and to navigate “very turbulent waters” but had done well despite the challenges.

She pointed to support for the “major productive sectors” including incentives to the tourism.

“The information is there and the results are there. If we look at the relative performance of that sector we have seen growth in the region and we have seen growth hemispherically. But that growth perhaps on average has been less than Barbados,” she said.

McClean said Government had also been able to maintain welfare and social care support “at a time when resources, as generated by taxes paid to Government, would have been challenged” and successfully contained unemployment.

“So it is worthy to note that in the face of the worse economic crisis our highest levels of unemployment were only slightly higher [than the 11 per cent when the Democratic Labour Party took office in 2008], I think it would have gone up just over 12 per cent at one point.

“Of particular interest to me and importance, Barbados has been able to maintain a positive image regionally and internationally. We have seen our small country with our very limited resources in our various mission, champion the cause of climate change,” she added.

In addition, the Leader of Government Business in the Senate said since 2008 Government had been able to “engage in initiatives that are intended to strengthen our administrative structures” and reform some areas of its operation, including statutory organizations.

“We have also worked hard to facilitate investment in our people, what I would term people development and human resource development,” added McClean.

“More importantly we have demonstrated that in giving what you have we have also been very prudent.

“But that had to happen because . . . we were facing a situation of constrained circumstances,” she said, adding that revenue bases were also falling partly due to “the global situation”. (MM)

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