Barbados’ 2017 Six Months Economic Performance Labeled as ‘Uneven’
The Barbados economy registered an uneven performance during the first half of the year. Preliminary data suggest that the expansion in real economic output continued into the second quarter, primarily reflecting sustained growth in tourism activity. The fiscal deficit narrowed moderately in the first quarter of fiscal year (FY) 2017/18, partially the result of the fiscal consolidation measures implemented in the previous fiscal year. However, the stock of international reserves fell below 10 weeks of import cover, owing in part to expected external debt service obligations and the on-going delays in securing planned foreign investment inflows. The context for this outturn is that the Barbados economy has underperformed in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, as evidenced by low growth and significant fiscal and external imbalances. The Government of Barbados has, particularly since 2013, sought to contain the fiscal deficit through a range of tax and expenditure measures, but the fiscal deficit has remained stubbornly high. Over the three preceding fiscal years, the fiscal deficit has been out of line with available financing as access to financing on the domestic and international capital markets weakened, resulting in a sharp increase in accommodation from the Central Bank.