Budget set for May
Barbadians could be in for more bitter medicine, as Government moves to correct its worrying fiscal deficit and foreign exchange problems in its much anticipated 2017 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals, due to be delivered before the end of May.
The disclosure came today in a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, following economic consultations with select members of the island’s Social Partnership.
During those talks, described as “frank and robust”, the need for clarity, certainty and firm action was reportedly emphasized by all.
The vital importance of dialogue among all stakeholders at all stages of the process towards solutions of the fiscal deficit and foreign exchange problems was also stressed during the talks held under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Freundel Stuart.
It was agreed that key recommendations made by two recently established working groups, which were mandated by the Prime Minister on March 3 to come up with recommendations on the way forward for the ailing economy would be used to inform the upcoming budget presentation by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler.
While officials remain tightlipped on the recommendations, the statement said it was also agreed that there would be a meeting held after the Budget to discuss the budgetary measures announced.
In recent months former Prime Minister Owen Arthur has been among those warning the medicine to cure the falling foreign reserves would be bitter.
The highly respected economist, who led Barbados from 1994 to 2008 and who has been approached to lead the National Economic Council, said Government had retreated from the measures and now time was running out.
“The economic situation facing our country is grim . . . . If we don’t stop the slide in reserves then we are in serious problems because if you run out of foreign exchange in a country like Barbados, heaven help you,” he said in an interview last month with Barbados TODAY. However, to date Government, which is on the cusp of a national election, has been reluctant to administer the bitter cure.