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Central Bank Governor to give economic report


SHAWN CUMBERBATCH

Central Bank Governor to give economic report

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The performance and future of the Barbados economy will take centre stage tomorrow as the political temperature rises in Barbados.

With economic matters expected to feature prominently ahead of the May 24 General Election, Central Bank Governor Cleviston Haynes will deliver his first quarter report and issue an outlook during a press conference at the Tom Adams Financial Centre, The City.

The first three months of the year are usually the most active for Barbados economically, with the winter tourist season ending about two weeks ago. It would therefore not be surprising for the Central Bank to report that the economy grew in the first quarter.

Concern about the state of the international reserves, Government’s fiscal deficit and the associated debt challenges will also be key issues Haynes is expected to address while fielding questions from the media.

So too will be the burning question about whether or not Barbados should seek the International Monetary Fund’s help.

His last economic report card was delivered on January 31, when he said the economy grew by a modest one per cent in 2017. This was attributed to a slowdown in the tourism sector in the second half of last year, the delayed implementation of foreign-funded investment projects, and the impact of tighter fiscal policy.

Haynes also said the pass-through effects of higher international oil prices and increased indirect taxes contributing to heightened inflationary pressures, was another contributing factor.

Oil prices have been trending up in recent days, and therefore the state of the foreign reserves is crucial. At the end of last December, the stock of international reserves declined further to $410 million, which was about 6.6 weeks of import cover. The Central Bank said this was well below the desired benchmark of 12 weeks.

When he spoke in January, Haynes said the Barbados economy was forecast to grow by between 0.5 per cent and to one per cent this year. Depending on how the economy performed in the first quarter and the outlook for the remainder of this year, this prediction could be changed. (SC)

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