IMF report no surprise – Sinckler
The latest report from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the Barbados economy came as no surprise to Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler.
Stating that he only read aspects of the report which was released last week, Sinckler yesterday told reporters on the sidelines of the official opening of another Burger King fast food restaurant at Warrens, St Michael that the IMF had identified the same challenges he outlined in the 2016 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals.
Among the areas he highlighted was the deficit, which the international lending agency said was too high.
“Our debt is growing . . . too high and still growing. We need to contain that to give ourselves the fiscal space to do things, and therefore, we need to do fiscal consolidation,” the Minister of Finance said while pointing to the IMF’s view that the local economy had started to turn the corner.
He agreed that Barbados had to do a lot better at business facilitation and get investors to come in and help grow the economy and provide jobs. He also conceded that state enterprises had to be reformed, stressing that the process had already begun.
“We have put an oversight committee in place . . . it has been in place for the past 18 months, headed by Dr Justin Robinson; I believe the deputy chair is Mr Chris Decaires. They have been working, and it’s been really mainly private sector people . . . they have gone ahead and started with some of the bigger entities that receive larger transfer from Government,” Sinckler revealed, naming the Transport Board, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) and the Barbados Agricultural Marketing Company (BAMC).
He disclosed that he expected to receive a full report of a study and a set of recommendations this week for the restructuring of the BAMC, with a briefing set for no later than tomorrow by officials from a major local accounting firm which conducted the study.
Sinckler added that Government was pushing ahead with other IMF recommendations to bring down the deficit, including work done at the QEH to improve the efficiency, resulting in $15 million to $20 million in savings and cutting expenditure from over $200 million per year.
The Transport Board, Sinckler said, had produced a draft reform initiative which the Ministries of Transport and Works and Finance were studying.
The minister said the proposed amalgamation of the Gymnasium Limited, the Barbados Sports Council and Kensington Oval Management Inc was progressing well, while Government would soon begin negotiations with the Barbados Workers Union in relation to merging the National Housing Corporation, the Urban Development Commission and the Rural Development Commission.