US Dollars Needed, Not Barbados Dollar Savings in Order to Invest
Reproduced with permission, the full text of Dr. Delisle Worrell – former Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados – October 2019 newsletter:
One often hears the comment that there are hundreds of millions of dollars of idle funds at commercial banks that ought to be directed to investment projects to create employment and grow our economy. However, we need always to bear in mind that every investment project is going need to computers, cell phones, supplies and equipment that have to be purchased from abroad, in US dollars. A basic feature of economies as small as Barbados is that all business investment, from hairdressers to supermarkets to power plants, has to be financed mainly in foreign currency, not domestic money. That is because the domestic currency cannot be used to acquire essential inputs from abroad, such as equipment, vehicles, materials, fuels and other inputs. This is true whether the project is large or small, private or public, for domestic production or export.
It follows that all investment of necessity requires a substantial proportion of foreign finance. This means that the Barbados dollars in banks cannot be put to use in financing investment projects; for that, the banks will need to receive a larger supply of foreign exchange, from tourism, international business, manufactured exports or other sources. It also means that new investment cannot be funded with the savings of local companies or individuals. Domestic savings are in local currency; in order to do any investment the saver has to acquire foreign currency in addition to (or in exchange for) their savings, so they can pay for the imports they need.
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