Thursday 21 March, 2019

Meeting IMF targets hinges on Barbadians willingness to transform

Chairman of the Barbados Private Sector Association and Co-chair on the BERT Monitoring Committee Ed Clarke delivering the first public report.

Chairman of the Barbados Private Sector Association and Co-chair on the BERT Monitoring Committee Ed Clarke delivering the first public report.

Barbados needs to not only look at the finance models for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) and the University of the West Indies (UWI), but every citizen needs to play an integral part in making sure that the Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) programme succeeds.

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With many asking how will government meet the International Monetary Fund (IMF) targets and what happens if government fails to hit the targets, one Co-chair on the BERT Monitoring Committee is calling on citizens to realise it's not only about government and what government is doing, but there is a responsibility component at the individual level at play as well.

After delivering the report during the press conference for the first of the quarterly public reports of the BERT Monitoring Committee, Edward 'Ed' Clarke said in the Q&A segment:

"It is critical that we meet the targets as a country.  I think that as this stage we have to have a positive outlook that we are on the right track. In my opinion, the country is on the right track. The growth needs to speed up a bit but I think we are on the right track in trying to fix the holes that were there. Now it is transformation time. 

"People have to understand the roles they're playing in government and what that drives, what that role drives in achieving a specific target in this programme. I think if every person in government, and in the private sector and in Barbados understands what their role is to help Barbados achieve these targets, it is incumbent on all of us as Barbadians to make sure that this country meets these targets."

Recognising that the IMF programme is set on targets with six-months reviews and knowing that the government and IMF have agreed to key criteria in blocks of quarters and six-month targets, he told the audience:

"It is critically important that at the six-month period we meet our targets or surpass them, any further drawdown would be dependent on how Barbados performs as a country versus these targets.

"The government has announced the IDB and CDB loans, which has [sic] been very helpful on the reserves side, and they're other funding arrangements that will take place, provided the country continues to meet its various targets.

"So it is critical that the country meets the targets. If it doesn't meet the targets, you would assume that some of these future fundings could be in jeopardy, but the government, the IMF, IDB and CDB would understand all those negotiated terms."

Going forward Clarke assured the public that the Monitoring Committee is working to deliver the public reports within 45 days after each end of quarter "hopefully".

Change UWI, QEH model without compromising services

With Barbados meeting many of the financial targets, Clarke said that all is not well as is. Under the category of central government transfers and grants within the monetary targets to be met, Clarke highlighted the QEH and UWI when addressing the 33 institutions which are areas of focus.

As it speaks to transfers Barbados fell just under the $495 million limit, with QEH and UWI recording transfers for the nine-month period of 41 per cent and 50 per cent respectively of their annual target allocation.

Clarke said that the Committee firmly believes that the "financing model of these two entities needs to be revised if the government of Barbados is to contain the transfers within the ceiling in future periods without accumulating any arrears or challenging the ability of these institutions to provide effective service to the public."

At the first public report press conference held at Sagicor, along with Clarke, were Co-chair Barbados Workers' Union (BWU) General Secretary Senator Toni Moore, Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB) Edwin O’Neal, Head of the Bankers Association Donna Wellington, representing the private sector and international business sector Greg McConney.

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