Challenging time for BERT programme
The Social Partnership watchdog overseeing Barbados’economic reform lauded Government’s effort this financial year, but sees some fiscal challenges in the future.
In its ninth public report issued yesterday, the Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan Monitoring Committee (BERT MC) said that “despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic [Government] has continued to achieve all of its performance targets and, in particular, the primary balance surplus of minus one per cent of GDP and the growth in net international reserves to levels well above the programme target”.
The report noted that while by the end of September Government was targeting a $33 million primary balance, the actual performance was $243 million. The primary balance is the difference between Government’s total revenues and grants and its spending. However, it does not include interest payments on debt.
While the international reserves target was $1.08 billion, there was about $2.2 billion in hand at the end of the period under review.
Despite this positive outcome, the BERT MC was concerned that a series of factors, including the ongoing lockdown and restrictions in key tourism markets, would challenge Government’s ability to reach its primary balance target, currently two per cent of GDP, when the 2021/2022 financial started on April 1.
It added that “the severity of the impact of COVID-19 and the resultant significant levels of unemployment, coupled with the shrinking of the economy last year”, were the main risks to the BERT programme. (SC)