Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley on Friday announced that the country’s economy is expected to be hit hard by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Speaking in the House of Assembly, the Prime Minister predicted up to an 80% drop in tourism arrivals and as much 8% decline in economic growth in 2020.
As a result, she said Government has made an arrangement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which will see an ease in the conditions of the Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation Programme (BERT).
The Prime Minister said while the country was expected to see increased economic growth this year and the fallout from this outbreak has set the country back.
She said the island’s foreign reserves now stood at about $1.5 billion, equalling about 5 months’ of import cover, and the agreement with the IMF has given government more fiscal space, which will see about $150m being made available to handle COVID-19 for the next six months.
Government has also lowered its fiscal primary surplus targets.
Ms. Mottley also announced that people now working short weeks will be paid by the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) 60% of their wages for the other days they are not working.
Commercial banks have also agreed to give some individuals and businesses an ease on debt payments, she said.
Below are some of the other announcements made by the Prime Minister in her address
- All disconnected Barbados Water Authority customers to get water service restored for the next three months.
- More money to be made available by Government to purchase medical supplies and equipment, including beds for the hospital and six months worth of medicines to cope with the pandemic.
- Rihanna donates Bds $1.4M to buy ventilators for Barbados.
- New jobs investment programme to be launched to try to save jobs.
- Landlords asked not to evict tenants.
- No decision yet on Crop Over.
- From April 1st banks are not to charge monthly usage fees on senior citizens.
- Extended $32m school repair program on the cards.
- Barbados Investment & Development Corporation (BIDC) to get $10m to build a center for innovation in the city and cluster facilities to house auto mechanics and body repairmen. This is in an effort to move them out of residential areas.
- A New Barbados Asset Management Agency to manage and develop state property including the former Clico lands and buildings.
- Barbados to soon get access to a $160m loan from the International Development Bank.