Stop stubborn resistance to IMF, Government told

The Freundel Stuart administration is again being advised to rethink its obdurate position on International Monetary Fund (IMF) support for the stuttering economy.

Adamant that increased taxes were not the way to emerge from a recession, independent senators Professor Sir Henry Fraser and John Watson today insisted that Barbados had nothing to lose by turning to the Washington-based financial body for help.

Similar advice has been proffered by leading economists, including former Prime Minister Owen Arthur, but has been stoutly rejected by the administration.

Notwithstanding, the two senators repeated the recommendation while speaking during the post-lunch debate on a resolution to raises the overdraft limit to $4.75 billion.

Watson said Barbados urgently needed to consolidate its debt and the IMF had just the solution the country needed.

“If you consolidate debt, you need to consolidate debt with the lowest interest rate and wherever the lowest possible interest rate is you should go and in simple terms that place is the IMF,” he told the Upper Chamber.

During his contribution, Sir Henry said the perceived heavy-handed behaviour of the IMF some 30 years ago when it forced countries, including regional neighbours Guyana and Jamaica, to devalue their currency was no longer a concern.

Like his colleague, he said Barbados had nothing to fear.

“There is no possibility of any loans with any lower interest rates than the IMF, so it is better to practise prevention rather than to get into a desperate situation where we are forced to devalue,” Sir Henry cautioned.

During the 2017 Budget debate, Arthur accused Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler of inflicting unnecessary pain on Barbadians, warning that the half-billion dollar adjustment programme which the minister presented, including increases to the National Social Responsibility Levy and excise duties on petrol, as well as the imposition of a two per cent tax on foreign exchange transactions, amounted to a devaluation of the Barbados dollar.

Arthur argued then that Government had turned its back on a $310 million package of assistance over a three-year period from the IMF, while opting to make an adjustment of $542 million over nine months.

“The adjustment that the minister is bringing to the House is going to inflict about $250 million more pain on this economy than if the Government of Barbados had chosen to enter a programme with the International Monetary Fund,” he warned at the time.

However, Sinckler had brushed aside the IMF recommendation, reiterating that there was no need for a “panicky resort” to the lending institution.

He remains adamant that even if Government were to resort to the IMF it would take six to nine months to initiate and conclude the process for a programme tailored to suit the circumstances Barbados currently faces.

“There is way too much historical evidence to show that countries which have been unable or unwilling to do so have been left having to implement badly designed IMF programmes which only reflect the wish list of Washington technocrats but end up causing massive destruction in their wake,” he said.

Senators Watson and Fraser however made it clear that if Barbados were to go the IMF route, devaluation of the Barbados dollar and harsh measures on citizens must be off the table from the outset.

“We must not devalue our dollar as part of the negotiations, and another thing, we must not put unbearable burdens on the citizens of Barbados, especially the most vulnerable,” Watson said.

“It is a no-brainer. We must not devalue our dollar. Devaluing our dollar is as for Jamaica and Guyana, the beginning and the end. So this is something we must not do,” stressed Sir Henry. 

10 Responses to Stop stubborn resistance to IMF, Government told

  1. Sheron Inniss June 15, 2017 at 7:12 am

    I do not believe the IMF will help Barbados. I agree with former senator Frances Chandler’s position in yesterday’s paper. Managing what we have is at the root of our problems. Squandermania, corruption and such like has to go. Champagne tastes and mauby pockets. Address the root causes; which includes rethinking our positions on a lot of these trade agreements.

  2. Tee White June 15, 2017 at 8:16 am

    Inviting the IMF into Barbados will finish off our economy. The IMF are driven by hatred for poor people and their prescriptions will make life worse for the poorest among us. No IMF in Barbados!

  3. Alex Alleyne June 15, 2017 at 9:19 am

    Chris is leaving that (IMF thing) for the BLP and then when the REAL pressure hit he will say “I told you so”. Then they (DLP) will have something to jump up and down on in Parliament when the time come.

    • Milli Watt June 15, 2017 at 10:32 am

      agreed alex……….don’t know why this crowd don’t want to pay the debt. minister delayed it for 9 years not a boy or girl had a problem with it but got a problem now. WE GOT TO PAY FOR THE CONSUMPTION

  4. Mr. Lawrence June 15, 2017 at 10:11 am

    The problem is not the IMF. The problem has been the reckless short sighted policies of government over the decades that brought about this problem. So, if the IMF come to bail you out – stop whining about the colour and size of the bucket.

  5. greengiant June 15, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    Does these two senators know the conditions under which the
    I M F will lend? I’m sure I heard the finance minister said the I M F is not an option at this time, he wants to reduce the deficit, get the foreign reserves back to an acceptable level before doing so.

    The B L P wants the car (Barbados) to drive badly, I guess the minister’s plan is give them a car (Barbados) full of petrol (foreign exchange), well serviced (reduced deficit) and tell them, show me how you can drive. Let them either generate projects quickly, attract foreign direct investment speedily or go to the I M F. Whoever wins the next election, will have a car ready to drive, if they drive irresponsibly and crash the car they will have their hands full.

  6. Haskell Murray June 15, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    Chris forget the IMF you have found a solution made in Barbados and not one made in Washington . It is better for the people in Barbados to embrace your budget and pay the taxes and eliminate the deficit than go to the IMF whose solution I am sure will be selling off or closing down crown corporations thus putting a whole heap of people on the bread line causing major upheaval in the Barbadian households.

    The people who are advocating going to the IMF are insulated from the drastic measures which will come with the IMF money (loan) but the majority of Bajans who don’t have the insulating luxury
    will vote you out of office to their delight and hand the government to the BLP who under Arthur ran up the deficit and also massive loans from every financial institution he could find.

  7. Ron June 15, 2017 at 6:42 pm

    I have a lot of repect for the persons advising us to go to the IMF especially former PM Arthur. You see the DLP is playing politics with our futute. They are into the blame game and should they take the advise they would have no one to blame if tbings go wrong. From Arthur’s speach during the budget debate the IMF conditions are much less burdensome than Chris’s

  8. Carlisle Norville June 15, 2017 at 7:04 pm

    I was born here, educated here believed that we were a great people with brilliant minds, I was proud to be a bagan, now that i have aged with the anticipation of a brighter tomorrow, I have to settle for a barbados full of cowards ,no guts, no balls, & people like sinclair making a total jackass out of all a we, all we doing is crying & talking a bunch of crap, bagans in got de guts to STAND up for what is rightful theirs, you all put these jokers in Parlament, now they getting fat , rich & in care a damn about you bunch of sissies.

  9. Carson C Cadogan June 16, 2017 at 7:37 am

    You guys must be deaf, dumb and blind.

    The Govt. has no intention of entering any standby arrangement with the IMF. Several times it has made this point and as recent as this year’s budget proposals. All with good reasons. So give up!!!!!!

    The Govt. has no intentions of rampant privatization, how many more time must it make this point before you BLP jokers get the drift?

    What you all need to high light is the fact that the Leader of your crooked Barbados Labour Party has to yet produce her LLB and Law certificate and make them a document of the House as challenge to do so by the Hon. Dr. Dennis Lowe.

    How can a person be a QC and no one has seen their LLB or Law certificate?


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