Across the globe countries are taking extreme and important measures to protect public health, slow the spread of the virus, calm public concerns, and bolster economies. Many different tools and mechanisms are being employed to protect workers, fight the economic disruption caused by COVID-19, and reduce business stress. The economic measures and the speed with which they are implemented will have profound impact on the global economies, and indeed Barbados is no different.
The Prime Minister of Barbados has been swift to act to implement stabilization measures which may very well become a lifeline for many Barbadians. It is indeed expected that further measures will be put forward as the impact of this global crisis becomes apparent.
Businesses and individuals are being asked to play their part to stem the impact of the health crisis, and from an economic perspective much more will be asked in the upcoming months to ensure that Barbados does not fall full victim to the negative global fallout.
The Prime Minister in her address to Barbados indicated that prior to the spread of COVID-19 and fear-driven panic around the world, the Barbados economy was expected to grow by roughly 1.5% in 2020, predicated on another 3% pick up in tourist arrivals and broad-based recovery in the other sectors including construction. Government now expects the impact to the Barbados economy to be primarily through the virus’ impact on global travel with a significant decrease in tourist arrivals, leading to a sharp decline in economic activity and resulting in drastically reduced government tax revenues which are used primarily to fund the civil service and social programs in addition to a slower accumulation of international reserves than currently projected as the baseline under the BERT –IMF EFF* supported program.
Barbados will continue to punch above its weight and the Prime Minister has committed to Government making “the necessary adjustment in this coming year to prepare the country for this unprecedented shock from COVID-19 while ensuring that we stay the course, remaining fully committed to our BERT program of economic growth and transformation”.
Here at home, while we secure our businesses we will need to focus on our people and the careful management of enforcement procedures, paying particular attention to caring for our vulnerable and elderly. We wish you all well.
* Barbados Economic Recovery Transformation-International Monetary Fund Extended Fund Facility (BERT –IMF EFF)