Economy will not collapse during pause
Barbados will lose about $150 million in economic activity for February and while this will hurt, the economy will not collapse, says Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Affairs Mia Mottley.
She was speaking during Monday’s address to the nation and COVID-19 media conference from Ilaro Court, where she announced the National Pause would be extended until February 28, 2021.
Mottley said she was aware of the concerns raised by health officials and the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners that there was a need for the extension.
This was balanced by those who fear for the economy and others like the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Association of Barbados (CTUSAB), who say we have to learn to live with COVID-19 and should put measures in place for enforcement.
The Prime Minister said she asked Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Ryan Straughn, to work with the financial sector to address the issue of retail and commercial mortgages and loans, to allow individuals to have a greater level of certainty over the next 18 to 24 months.
Similarly, he is to have a conversation with utility companies for arrangements to be put in place for the next three to four months for those who have cash flow problems.
Mottley said these measures are to help people “keep their head above water”.
Similarly, the arrangements in place for shops and vendors will be extended, but there will be a separate meeting for the fishing sector.
Mottley said a Draft Bill will be going to Cabinet for the establishment of a Free Trade Zone in Barbados.
Tourism continues to feel the majority of the shocks, but the Barbados Employment and Sustainable Transformation (BEST) programme, as was conceptualised last September, has to be refined. Discussions are continuing with the tourism sector.
Key projects by the Government and private sector will come on stream as the country comes out of the pause. However, that all depends on getting the number of infections down.
The Prime Minister listed work on the Magistrates Courts, the British American building in Magazine Lane, the Welfare Building on Country Road, the Gate House at Barbados Water Authority, the School Meals building on Country Road and the relocation of the squatters at Rock Hall in St Philip. A contract is in place with a Chinese community to work on the roads in the Scotland District. Additionally, work on Golden Square and Fairchild Street Market in The City will resume and there are plans for development of the River and Baxter’s Road. (SAT)