Barbados has so far met all of its targets under the Barbados Economic Recovery Transformation (BERT) programme supported by the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF’s) extended arrangement under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF). After the recently concluded fifth review, Barbados is eligible to draw approximately US$24 million from the fund. To date, the EFF has disbursed to the Barbados Government a total of approximately US$415 million.
The BERT programme was implemented in 2018 by the Government of Barbados to generate economic growth and restore debt and fiscal sustainability over a three-phase, five-year period. Prior to the pandemic, the country remained on track towards economic growth, passing each IMF review and making considerable progress in its recovery efforts.
The global pandemic however, made its presence felt in early 2020, impacting economies worldwide. According to Mr. Tao Zhang, Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair, IMF Executive Board, “Barbados continues to make strong progress in implementing its homegrown Economic Recovery and Transformation plan despite major challenges from the ongoing pandemic. The authorities remain strongly committed to programme implementation.”
Barbados has remained proactive, even with adjustments to its BERT programme. In response to COVID-19, the Barbados government instituted several policies geared towards stabilising the country including mobilising external funding, adapting economic policy, building unprecedented reserve buffers and strengthening the safety net for the most vulnerable. Additionally, to mitigate the fallout from the heavily impacted tourism industry, the government introduced the Barbados Welcome Stamp, a 12-month visa for persons desirous of living in and working remotely from Barbados.
In his statement, Zhang also noted that Barbados will need to focus on a few key areas, even after the pandemic. “A strong recovery after the global pandemic will depend on accelerating structural reforms to improve the business climate and facilitate green and digital transformation. Strengthening resilience to natural disasters and climate change is key to achieving long-term sustainable economic growth.”