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Barbados PM pleased with IMF discussions

Sunday, June 17, 2018

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) — Prime Minister Mia Mottley yesterday said the new government would seek a one per cent interest payment on any loan with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as it seeks to turn around an ailing economy.

Mottley returned to Barbados from the United States where she held talks with the Washington-based financial institution.

“I want to make sure that even as we treat to the issue of debt restructuring that no future generation of Barbadians or this current generation, will have to go back to this place again . . . of a government display of utter fiscal recklessness with the manner in which they handled the affairs of the country,” she told a news conference.

Mottley is hoping to reach an agreement with the IMF as soon as possible, indicating that she is hopeful it could be done before a nine-month period.

She said that the island's arrears are closer to BDS$1.9 billion) as her Barbados Labour Party (BLP) administration, which came to power following the May 24 general election, had been discovering new debts.

She cited a lease payment of BDS$3.8 million due for the Sanitation Services Authority “for an unoccupied building” telling reporters however that her administration is equipped to get Barbados out of the current financial situation.

“We have this matter under control. I know that there are some who are a little nervous about the manner in which the comments are coming from persons with respect to debt. The bottom line is there is no easy way to say that you are suspending debt payments. There is no easy way to make an omelette without breaking eggs and we have to go through the process,” she said.

Meanwhile, Mottley announced that the President of Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Luis Alberto Moreno will visit Barbados on Wednesday for talks with the government.
She said that the IDB official praised Barbados for the recent steps taken to turn around the economy.

“When he called last week [he] said 'look, we want to come and stand shoulder to shoulder with Barbados because we recognize that Barbados is doing a difficult thing, but it is doing the right thing by acting in this manner.

“And they know, as we do, that once we settle this arrangement [with the International Monetary Fund], it unlocks hundreds of millions of development capital for us to fix our broken infrastructure and for us to create the platform for greater competitiveness,” she told reporters.

Prime Minister Mottley also announced that she will travel to St Lucia next week to attend the summit of the leaders of the sub-regional Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

“Barbados, as you know, has a trade surplus with the countries of the Eastern Caribbean. It's the only region in the world with whom we have a trade surplus and it's the area in which our services are particularly competitive. These are our brothers and sisters,” she said.

“The Heads of Government Meeting of the OECS is Monday and Tuesday but I go for the opening ceremony and a caucus meeting and will return on Tuesday,” she told reporters.

The leaders of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Kitts-Nevis, Montserrat, Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands will meet under the chairmanship of the incoming chairman, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves of St Vincent and the Grenadines, who replaces St Lucia's Prime Minister Allen Chastanet.

The summit, the highest decision making body of the OECS, is expected to be attended by all leaders of the sub-regional grouping who will discuss matters related to climate change, trade, border security, external representation, applications for membership and other areas of regional priority.

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