Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley announced a new financial plan for the next four years in the House of Assembly on Tuesday.
The Resolution, titled the Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) Plan 2022: Fiscal Year 2022/23-Fiscal Year 2026/27, is the successor to the Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan 2018 (BERT 2018).
The document’s focus is on achieving inclusive and sustainable growth, while also maintaining fiscal and debt sustainability.
Mottley discussed the difficulties of keeping the Barbadian economy afloat which meant the initial BERT programme was needed.
“We assumed office as a Government against difficult circumstances. Barbados was the third most indebted country in terms of Debt to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita. Only Japan and Greece had worse metrics than we did. We had a combination of factors that literally sucked the oxygen and was threatening to debilitate the patient completely,” she explained.
“I refer to high debt….high persistent fiscal deficit which went as high as ten to 11 per cent at one point. We also reached a situation where our reserves were effectively down to four or five weeks. The growth of our Barbados economy was effectively on pause since 2008, and it continues to be, regrettably, because of the measures we had to take and also the circumstances we face.”
The Minister of Finance, Economic Affairs and Investment added that the aim of BERT 2022 was to keep the positives which were achieved under the previous BERT programme and forge ahead on the proposed reforms which had to be delayed because of the impact of global COVID-19 pandemic.
She said: “We have set ourselves the target that as we move to become world class by 2030, we minimise the level of poverty in this country to as close to zero as possible. The Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan 2022 builds on what we have achieved in the one of 2018. We set ourselves the target of debt and fiscal sustainability.
“Stop the bleeding! We used to say that all the time. We set ourselves that target, we’ve largely achieved it. We are not quite out of the woods, but in order to get out of the woods, we have to work on the other things that trigger growth, that would have inclusive growth. Everything we have done as a Government speaks to carrying along our people.”
Under the new BERT Plan, Mottley outlined eight pillars that would see that growth.
They are as follows:
Pillar 1: Incentivising the green transition and building climate resilient infrastructure;
Pillar 2: Incentivising low and middle income housing.
Pillar 3: Investing in skills training and education;
Pillar 4: Preserving financial stability and mobilising domestic savings for local investment;
Pillar 5: Making Government an enabler to improving productivity, boosting competitiveness and exports, and enhancing service excellence;
Pillar 6: Establishing Barbados as a logistics hub;
Pillar 7: Promoting diversification through new niche economic activities centred around a new, high-skilled, knowledge-based economy that is more technologically advanced and carbon neutral and marine-conscious; and
Pillar 8: Adopting open labour market policies to support stronger, resilient growth together with expanding the population base and improving productivity and competitiveness. (JC)