BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has a chilling message for the Freundel Stuart administration: delay further action to breathe life into the ailing economy and face possible disaster. With Government’s austerity programme yet to produce the desired results, CDB President Dr Warren Smith is warning there is “no painless way” to rein in the fiscal deficit and ballooning debt.
“There is no question that there are some very tough decisions that need to be made in this country. I think the situation has reached the point where it appears to me there is no painless way out of this problem and I think there is an important lesson to be learnt there,” Smith told journalists on the sidelines of the CDB’s February 17 annual news conference at its Wildey, St Michael headquarters.
“In economic matters, delay is never a good strategy because the problems that we now find ourselves in, the challenge that we now are faced with, has been made more difficult as a consequence of the accumulation of the problem, so that is an important lesson to learn. But I think it is also important to appreciate that we need action now. The Government of Barbados knows what to do.”
Troublingly, Smith said the island, once held up in the region as a shining example of social and economic development, could come under scrutiny as a result of the deteriorating conditions, sure to be made worse by the public row between Minister of Finance Christ Sinckler and Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados Dr DeLisle Worrell.
The head of the regional financial institution said the CDB stood ready to lend assistance to the Stuart administration. However, he said the bank had to tread carefully. Even in the absence of any formal aid, the bank is offering some advice, which it believes will help pull the country back from the brink.