IMF Staff gives Barbados Thumbs Up

IMF Reaches Staff Level Agreement on the First Review of Barbados’ Economic Program under the Extended Fund Facility

May 17, 2019
End-of-Mission press releases include statements of IMF staff teams that convey preliminary findings after a visit to a country. The views expressed in this statement are those of the IMF staff and do not necessarily represent the views of the IMF’s Executive Board. Based on the preliminary findings of this mission, staff will prepare a report that, subject to management approval, will be presented to the IMF’s Executive Board for discussion and decision.

A staff-level agreement was reached between the IMF staff and the Barbadian authorities on the First review of Barbados’ Economic Recovery and Transformation program (BERT) supported by the Extended Fund Facility.
Barbados continues to make good progress in implementing its ambitious and comprehensive economic reform program.

At the request of the Government of Barbados, an International Monetary Fund (IMF) team led by Bert van Selm visited Bridgetown from May 7–17, 2019 to discuss implementation of Barbados’ Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) plan, supported by the IMF under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF). To summarize the mission’s findings, Mr. van Selm made the following statement:

“Following productive discussions, the IMF team and the Barbadian authorities reached staff-level agreement on the completion of the first review under the EFF arrangement. The agreement is subject to approval by the IMF Executive Board, which is expected to consider the review in June. Upon completion of the review, SDR 35 million (about US$49 million) will be made available to Barbados, bringing the total disbursement to SDR 70 million.

“Barbados continues to make strong progress in implementing its ambitious and comprehensive economic reform program. International reserves, which reached a low of US$220 million (5–6 weeks of import coverage) at end-May 2018, have more than doubled since then. The rapid completion of the domestic part of a debt restructuring has been very helpful in reducing economic uncertainty, and the new terms agreed with creditors have put debt on a clear downward trajectory. The authorities have started the reform of State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) by tightening reporting requirements and shedding excess staff.

“All program targets for end-March under the EFF have been met. The program target for Net International Reserves was met by a wide margin, as was the target for the Central Bank of Barbados’ Net Domestic Assets (NDA). The targets for the primary surplus, central government grants to SOEs, central government domestic arrears, and social spending were also met.

“In March, parliament adopted a budget FY2019/20 targeting a primary surplus of 6 percent of GDP. Full year effects of reforms set in motion during FY2018/19, including the introduction of several new taxes (an airline travel fee, room levies, a new fuel tax, and a new health service contribution), should help achieve this target. A broadening of the base of the VAT and the land tax, adopted in March 2019 in the context of the FY2019/20 budget, will help support revenue. The budget approved for FY2019/20 provides a solid basis for the targeted fiscal consolidation; the authorities stand ready to take additional measures if necessary to reach the targeted 6 percent primary surplus.

“The Barbadian authorities continue to make good progress in implementing structural benchmarks under the EFF, including those that contribute to an improved business climate such as a new Planning and Development Act passed in January 2019 and a Sandbox regime to regulate fintech start-ups set up in October 2018. A new Public Financial Management Act passed in January 2019 introduced wide-ranging measures to strengthen fiscal transparency and accountability. The government has also introduced a system for monitoring SOE arrears on an ongoing basis and has submitted a consolidated report on the performance of SOEs to parliament.

“Progress being made by the authorities in furthering good-faith discussions with external creditors is welcome. Continuing open dialogue and sharing of information will remain important in concluding an orderly debt restructuring process.

“The team would like to thank the authorities and the technical team for their openness and candid discussions.”
IMF Communications Department

PRESS OFFICER: Randa Elnagar

Phone: +1 202 623-7100Email:


  • David

    That’s reasonable.

    The deeper pint though is that at a systems level corruption is built-in, no!


  • point


  • @Pacha

    Greed is a characteristic of the human condition. We have to ensure our monitoring systems are relevant with the constant modification maintenance that is required to remain one step of those it is meant to surveil.


  • unlike a former prime minister “how did we get back here” does not concern me, because it is easy to answer…borrow to spend more than you should on unproductive things, over a long period of time. someone help me to understand how do we get FROM here. i understand the fall in debt to gdp, just dont pay the people you owe with their agreement. but that is like a diet, the first 10 lbs are the easiest. how do we shed the remaining 50lbs? also the reserves improve when you dont pay your foreign debt and borrow usd. how do we keep the reserves high, while repaying the foreign old and now new debt. we have seen that since our economy runs on mostly local activity, and that activity is fx consuming, when we restrict fx the economy slows, we have to keep feeding our economy fx, what will be the source since we cant keep borrowing it. i think our economy ran on fx inflows from foreigners buying second homes, a market that appears not exist worldwide. i do not see mention of any plans for golf courses, marinas etc, so i assume the developers are still trying to sell their 10yr old inventory. same is true of our offshore industry which has become very competitive and constantly under attack from the countries that lost those tax dollars. so how do we EARN the fx we need, and how we do get the govt debt down from here?


  • @BA

    Your concerns belong to all of us. It is tied to SUSTAINABLE growth strategies both on the domestic and foreign exchange fronts. Successive governments have relied to heavily on debt financing and running budget deficits. Our people must attempt to get more involved in demanding a level of accountability from those that offer themselves for public service.


  • William Skinner

    @ Hal
    Thanks for your compliment. Leroy was a great Comrade.

    @ Pacha
    You can continue to be judge jury and executioner.


  • BA you have raised an interesting point about the fact that the last boom pre 2008 was led by the real estate market. It was also led by easily available finance from all forms of dubious loan schemes. Like in the USA you could buy a property today and go back tomorrow for a home equity loan on the same house, that had magically jumped in value $50000 over night! The loan could then be used for anything. This time around we have a massive glut of unsold properties on the island as outlined in the Red Book and no easy money in the foreign markets as the ponzi schemes and slack banking practices have all been tightened up on since the crash of 2008. We also just increased land taxes by 30 percent on properties over $800,000 at a time when the rental market is off close to 40 percent and many high end rental clients have relocated. So none of these properties will now be bought as investment rental properties as a result of all this. The question is then what will lead the next boom in Bim if we are indeed going to have one, seeing that no boom has ever occurred without the real estate market being part of it?

    Yes we can build a few hotels and try to fill them but that does not help the average Barbadian improve their standard of living. Gone too are the days when a construction project involved hundreds of workers. With everything being precast in slabs it’s now a crane and a handful of men to bolt the slabs together. It you doubt that look at how fast those last few houses at Coverly went up using that system in a matter of weeks for Ross. Unless the general real estate market can run down the glut and thereby create new investments, I don’t think we will see an economy like we had in 2007 and before in any hurry unfortunately. The question therefore is what will lead us out of the hole this time around?


  • david, the problem is that you are right. borrowing fx and deficits are the reasons for our “success” to date. but the imf says we cant borrow except from them and spend it on projects approved by them and “deficits” like CS ran of 15% must become surpluses of 6%. im not sure enough people understand what changing our only two engines of past growth mean. so if we cant do as we only know how to, what are we going to do and when? if we dont do something soon the “positives” of the last year will disappear in a flash.


  • re I beleive that i was the first one to use the rum shop analogy with reference to BU;

    IT WAS GP!


  • @BA

    We are at the point our quality of human capital will be challenged to deliver. We will soon know if our level of education equips us to rise to the challenges ahead. It will be our ability to be innovative and creative that should in theory support the effort required to pursue the transformational plans needed.


  • david, agreed, but trying to teach an old dog new tricks, takes time, and time we do not have. look at the what is being sold to us as signs of positive changes, borrowing fx and not paying what we owe. then the new projects are a hardware store, and an insurance company getting into real estate. wtf. isnt that what got us here? John a, almost all of the labour to build sandals was imported. bajan labour cant compete either. so even our past growth of building wont have the same effect as before.


  • @BA

    By your admission there is no time which might explain the big bang flavour of the implementation while the comms strategy is to use the tired and irrelevant messages that seem to appease a disengaged population addicted to the flavour of the day – especially the base. Sad when you consider the level of investment in education since 1966. The reality is that we find ourselves in a deep economic rut. To effort to shift course (not stay the course) must of necessity incur scrapes and bruises. No ifs or buts. Buckle up, it will be a rough ride.


  • John A

    You are right. Cheap money drove the housing boom, in particular the Irish buyers. Look what it did to the housing market in Ireland and to it banks. It is only when a full tide goes out that you notice the detritus. We have not had a boom riven by economic fundamentals.


  • ha. look at ireland now! the epicenter of europes crisis is the epicenter of success, but not with housing, with every major hi-tech company the world knows using ireland as its european headquarters and from that, home grown irish hi-techs taking on the world. it is possible for small countries to compete and succeed, but not playing a losing game of socialism and government wastage.


  • Hal that is the worry for me this time around. Once the foreign debt restructure agreement is signed, it will start to draw on that 1 billion dollars in reserves. We have already borrowed from the IMF CDB etc, so we then can only fall back on internal foreign exchange from the sale of properties to generate quick reserve props for the island to continue on a growth path. As you said Ireland is a glaring example of what not to do as was the USA. So we need to take a hard look at what’s left and as I said a few new hotels is not going to help, especially if they are foreign branded and a large percent of the revenue from them is repatriated to their head office. We need to think and look deeper this time around if we are to get out of this one. I hope those in charge understand the wicket we have to use is not the one played on in the pre 2007 period.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Here is what former Governor of the Central Bank of Ireland, Dr. Patrick Honohan had to say when he addressed post-graduate students of the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus two years ago.

    Here is his Central Bank interview with Governor Haynes lecture:


  • david. the defaults and imf borrowing have taken us off the bumpy road to a rest stop at a crossroad. left looks smother but takes us back to where we started using govt debt, deficits, and govt hiring but along the way govts get reelected. the jamaica model. borrow, default, waste money, repeat. the road to the right looks much worse than the one we are on, and is littered with ousted governments, but leads to govt surpluses, a smaller affordable modern civil service, with high skilled high paying private sector export oriented jobs, the irish model. are we turning left or right and when, because we cant stay here.


  • @BA

    Ireland is doing well, not because of any great economic policies, but the good fortune of language and being a member of the wider EU, the biggest market in the world.
    The UK, which used to be the base for big US and Asian companies wanting a foothold in the EU, now switch to Ireland as the other major English-language country in the EU.

    @John A,

    It is really sad that the Mottley-led government is not even in the mood to entertain any other ideas. At least the DLP went through the motions of talking to others.
    There are numerous alternatives to the Washington Consensus-based austerity policy the government is pursuing, the most disastrous of which was the decision to default on both domestic and foreign debt. What were they thinking?
    They have not learned anything from the global financial crisis – from Iceland, Ireland, Greece, the US, Japan, UK and EU. All these economies introduced policies of economic stimulation which prevented the disaster of the 1930s.
    Of course, the Mottley government could be right, but I have asked for them to explain the economic theories driving their policy and so far they have refused. Maybe there are lessons we can all learn, but they are remaining silent on that front.


  • Hal I can tell you if you talk to any business man they will tell you this year business is down on last year. The last 2 months especially have slowed quite a bit compared to April and May of 2018. With the increased bus fares etc now biting home i don’t see anything changing this downward projectory between now and December 2019. If as a result businesses start to trim staff in the last quarter, that can only equate to a slower Christmas period than last year.

    My point to saying all of the above is where is this growth I hear spoken of going to come from? Yes they will tell you they have eased the tax bands but so what, they simply shifted that revenue stream to one of direct taxation. So what you are saying to those who think they will benefit from lower income tax rates is this ” folks don’t complain I ease you income tax rates but don’t spend none cause I taking it back in some new direct taxation measures.”

    So again I ask where is the growth suppose to come from when every extra dollar taken out the economy in taxes is one dollar less for it to grow by?

    What am I missing here?


  • @John

    Who are you talking to, in which sectors?

    Hope you are not making the mistake that growth is a function of something transactional to use the word in a generic meaning. The institutional strengthening, capacity building, improved business facilitation, networking etc all are inputs to nurture growth.

    About Ireland, let Google be your friend. The reputed success has been used as a case study and written about, voluminously. A success using which measures some will ask.


  • John A

    The nation s in stagnation, but no-one is talking about it. Our political and policy leaders have lost the confidence to even think about big projects.
    We now think in silos: a single hotel here, bus fare increases, there, etc. Is this part of the 12-hotel corridor from Hastings to Black Rock?
    There is no joined up thinking. The greatest macro-economic success of the last 25 years has been the control of inflation. This alone should send a message to our policymakers.
    There is an acute shortage of middle class housing in Barbados and government has not the confidence or ability to tackle this. By the way, the greatest driver of household wealth in the world – developed and developing – has been homeownership.
    Then you get the confusion of a government talking about climate change, then wanting to extend the airport (more flights), building more roads, and allowing car ownership to runaway.
    On education, the DLP wasted ten invaluable years. A kid entering the school system in 2008 would have done their CXC, GCSEs last year, and now working on A levels. Instead we are still dealing with failure, with one bogus report claiming that seven schools are responsible for the rising crime in the country.
    The Mottley government was elected on May 25, 2018, it is now about to celebrate its first anniversary, and despite lots of babble, there is not a single policy on education reform. I can go on.
    So, we can come in this blog and make silly statements and fly the flag for a party trapped like a rabbit in oncoming lights, or we can get real and be serious about rescuing our little nation. The chairman is the band master.


  • Hope you are not making the mistake that growth is a function of something transactional to use the word in a generic meaning. The institutional strengthening, capacity building, improved business facilitation, networking etc all are inputs to nurture growth.(Quo te)

    Can someone who speaks English translate this for me?


  • David retail on the whole is down. The restaurants will tell you that even the nights they are full their total take is down as people are not buying the wines etc with dinner and Are sticking to just the main courses and maybe sharing a desert. Supermarkets will tell you although the number of transactions daily may be roughly the same, their average value per transaction is down. Again people trying to take back a few dollars that they now have to spend in increased bus fare etc. The Brits came for the winter but they spent extremely carefully. Who can blame them with the Brexit cloud refusing to go away, they have to be cautious with their spend. What I am saying is it’s not how many come in the store that matters, but what’s left in the register at the end of the day, whether it’s a business or a country. Look at the test match we had recently, the furore of spending in the restaurants, duty free stores etc wasn’t there this time around. I think the rum shops with 4 beer for $10 got some business though lol. As i said a weak and uncertain sterling and a Brexit cloud that refuses to either rain or go away.

    Ireland was one of the biggest winners from the Brexit cloud of uncertainty. Many global businesses that were domiciled in the UK did what we bajans call ” Take front before front take you .” In other words they moved offices to Ireland or set up a satellite office there in case Brexit became A reality. Either way Ireland benefited. We don’t have that luxury, actually we are in the opposite situation. We actually have the EU breathing down our neck and looking for every excuse to black list us. I am not saying the offshore sector still doesnt have a small Amount of potential for us, but gone are the good old 80 and 90s. The EU will continue to haunt us like a rabid dog going forward. Again who can blame them they too are trying to protect their own revenue base. The whole game has changed in the last decade globally regrettably.

    My view is if an economy is worth say 4 billion and you bring new taxes, all you will do is collect the same amount in one tax name as opposed to the other. The only way you can collect more taxes is if the economy gets larger than the 4 billion. It’s no different for you or me, if our gas bill goes up and we have the same income we spend less in another area.

    Having therefore said all of the above it brings me back to my original question.

    Where will this growth come from under the current approach?

    Liked by 1 person

  • The Truth Shall Set You Free

    Can someone who speaks English translate this for me? {Quote}

    Hal Austin, I think you should heed your own advice (below), which I also think is appropriate here.

    But, true to form (it is cultural) you jump in hysterically on the attack. What most civilised people do is if the issue does not appeal to them they keep quiet. But you obviously want a row. It is the Napoleon syndrome. {Quote}


  • Wuhlaus Simple! You have attempted to take credit for a stupid BU rum shop analogy.! Surely you shall be hanged for this, you non Barbados scholar!

    At the same time you have proven your pet theory about a man and his ego.



  • What foolishness ……………..

    When commentators render tired critiques of ‘ political and policy leaders’. Slogans about ‘thinking in silos’. Canned mouthings, read somewhere else.
    The so-called ‘control of inflation’ is seen not as mass suppression of wages, that it is/was, but as an economic success. What an idiot!
    Indeed, this suppression of wages has been one of the reasons for the ‘shortage of middle housing’
    Then we are told that ‘middle class home ownership is the greatest driver of household wealth in the world’ when we know well that since the 2008 events such accumulations have been greatly reduced. In the USA, in particular, from about an average of 130,000 to about 77,000. What is being said? Where is the causation? Why has this been happening? What innate fear prevents the excavation of truths?
    This so-called ‘confusion of government’ is at least imprecise. The writer lacks the insight, the courage, to uncover the underlying problems governments face, will continue to face. Instead, borrowed homilies stand in as substitutes.

    And the beat of ignorance, passing for ‘analysis’ goes on, and on and on. Painful to read!

    Liked by 1 person

  • @ BA May 19, 2019 9:38 AM

    Excellent analysis.

    Lots of things do not fit to little Bim.

    Scandinavian welfare state in the Caribbean? Does not work.
    Offshore financial centre and Scandinavian welfare state? Does not work.

    I prefer the model of a super-liberal micro-island state with minimal social standards and low taxes for foreigners and locals. We must privatise, deregulate, flexibilise, restrict union rights and promote free trade by abolishing all customs duties.Of course, we must also reduce the number of civil servants. We only need officials at the head of ministries, in the police and judiciary and in the prison corps. The rest should work on a private basis. That would drive the lazybones.

    The previous model of the fat Barbadian welfare state with a bulky administration no longer works. Our beloved Mia Mottley has a unique chance to destroy Barrow’s estate and wipe out his seeds.


  • @Hal,

    It is really sad that the Mottley-led government is not even in the mood to entertain any other ideas. At least the DLP went through the motions of talking to others.
    There are numerous alternatives to the Washington Consensus-based austerity policy the government is pursuing, the most disastrous of which was the decision to default on both domestic and foreign debt. What were they thinking?

    Can you name at least one of the numerous alternatives to the Washington Consensus-based austerity policies an insolvent Barbados should have implemented, and let us which country has successfully used it?

    Liked by 1 person

  • @Bajan

    I have named the most popular post-2008 policies, pursued by the G20. See my post at 1.04.

    They have not learned anything from the global financial crisis – from Iceland, Ireland, Greece, the US, Japan, UK and EU. All these economies introduced policies of economic stimulation which prevented the disaster of the 1930s.(Quote)

    Do you want more? Read Paul Krugman in the New York Times, where he dispenses good ideas every week. You are in New York, do some reading on freshwater versus saltwater economics. If you need more ideas come back to me.


  • I am happy to see that other people recognise that Hal the former Senior Editor is pure hot air. A read and repeat specialist, sans context. It is painful to read.


  • john a. no doubt business is off. quite a bit in the last two months. central bank report says so too. the imf called our program “ambitious”. there will be more pain to come. but what is the big picture? after the pain are we going back to how it was or are we going with trons picture of an economy? there doesnt seem to be a well thought out picture of what we want bdos to look like at the end of this and how exactly we will get there. what will drive this economy for the next few years. how do we prepare our children and our businesses to participate or are we just biding time until the govt can go back to hiring everyone who cant find a job, which was the dems plan and that didnt seem to work so well.


  • BA that is what I am waiting to hear too, the details of this growth plan. We know it can’t include many of the ingredients used in previous recipes so what will it be this time? We also know that as long as the IMF sits at the table we can’t swell our civil service no time soon and in fact more shrinking may well still be ahead there too. So we can’t see more employment in government leading to an expansion of the economy. So that leaves only the private sector to drive growth which Will require liquidity to increase first in the wallets of bajans. Let’s be honest no business is going to expand their operation, when their current base of operation is struggling in a depressed economy already. The reality is that no economy can grow when both business and the government are fighting over every available dollar.


  • Enuff

    We are highly doubtful that this, your, BLP government will be successful. Primarily because they face structural difficulties almost impossible to overcome under end-stage capitalism.

    However, we have long judged that Mottley faces bigger problems than any other government in the history of Barbados. Problems, maybe even more severe than all the major historical economic problems combined.

    We hope that we are wrong.


  • because we look inward. the world is a big place. we only have a few mouths to feed. we need export growth. services that pay well in fx. but they wont just come knocking at our door. is anyone out there from govt looking for work. not direct fx investment in a hardware store to import more things to sell to bajans. is anyone senior from govt now on a plane pitching anyone to come to bdos and hire bajans to export anything? seems like more of the same failed economic plan but mixed with more taxes and less govt employment.


  • We must imagine the social order and the state of Barbados as a living organism. Due to the high state expenditures and the many civil servants, the body is currently very swollen. The patient suffers from diabetes, fatty liver and high blood pressure. In addition, he is severely traumatized by ten years of economic DLP terror. Sometimes he has nightmares in which a spectre called Barrow haunts him.

    The patient now needs a brute slimming cure with therapeutic fasting, stomach reduction and daily self-mortification.


  • Pacha
    It doesn’t justify the Editor’s piffle and hypocrisy though.🤣🤣🤣


  • Tron all true but the patient needs also to move swiftly on areas we have control over or we may die in the waiting room.

    For instance we have made no headway in trying to get higher on the ease of doing business scale. Further to that we introduced more bank paperwork for persons using credit cards for commercial payments. In March the budget spoke about allowing persons and businesses to hold US DOLLAR accounts. Walk into a bank tomorrow and they will tell you they have no news as to when this will happen, if indeed ever.

    My point is even the things we can do internally we are not addressing with the urgency required.


  • Enuff



  • Oh sinister one,

    When are we going to deal with the corruption of the politicians???? We can save a bundle there. And did not YOUR beloved prime minister recently speak about the economic cost of corruption?

    Think of Barbados as a fish. I am told that they rot from the head. What are we going to do about the fish head ,man???


  • tron i agree. but did that get voted for? how about a clearly articulated plan that everyone knows and supports. the dems privatized by stealth. dont buy buses and the private sector fills the hole. dont pickup peoples garbage and they will dump it somewhere themselves. but thats not the right way. john a, all of that is fine if we had 10 years. the word would eventually get out that shit isnt running in the streets anymore and foreign business would come back, except we dont have time. the govt needs to beat the bushes for the right kind of investment, not wait to see who turns up. i dont get the impression that they are doing that. if the pm is meeting with school teachers who is meeting with google about having a head office here?

    Liked by 1 person

  • BA that is why I don’t understand why we have not put the holding of US DOLLAR accounts in place already. That does not require foreign assistance to do, nor if it is to work does it require the interference of the Central Bank and it’s barage of red tape. If Bajans could hold US DOLLAR accounts here many living overseas with property in Bim would happily pay their land taxes etc using their local USD accounts. All those foreigners owning properties here should be able to open a USD account simply by presenting a land tax bill. Land tax bills for example could come out in both bajan and USD then, with say a 2.5% discount for payment in USD. You paying a whole bunch of people like Persaud and all he seems to do is defend the fees of White Oak. Lord knows the more I study all of this the more dam annoyed i get at how much we can do to help ourselves and how little we are in fact doing!


  • “The patient now needs a brute slimming cure with therapeutic fasting, stomach reduction and daily self-mortification.”

    Fraud….all the patient needs are those 120,000 offshore accounts that NO ONE WILL FORGET.. no matter how hard yall try..,cause all yall names are on them …AS THE THIEVES.

    ….ya aint got Enuff fraud doctors to ERASE THAT MEMORY.


  • “Pachamama May 19, 2019 5:27 PM


    We are highly doubtful that this, your, BLP government will be successful”

    They dont want to face reality, but nearly 80 years of criminality…tends to follow u around, it wont leave unless addressed. Am telling them about their haunting and they are running, but when ya put ya hands in iniquity…YOU HAVE TO PAY.

    And they know what they did…

    They have to live with the knowledge, every second of every day.

    It is going nowhere …unless addressed, you have living victims, dead victims AND ALL THEIR BENEFICIARIES…yall robbed.

    Get used to ya haunting,

    Ah really, really enjoying it, it’s a really good one too.


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