Barbados: The COVID-19 pandemic is creating a deep recession in Barbados. However, the Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) program’s implementation remains strong, & targets are yet being met, an International Monetary Fund (IMF) team mission published last week.
The words came at the end of an IMF staff visit, through videoconferencing, between February 2 and 5, to discuss the BERT plan’s implementation, supported by the IMF under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF).
“The prolonged COVID-19 pandemic remains to have a major impact on Barbados. The economy is supposed to have contracted by about 18 percent in 2020, with a gradual recovery projected to start in 2021,” stated team leader Bert van Selm in a statement.
“Tourism arrivals remain at a portion of normal levels, and recent increases in COVID-19 cases in important source markets, including the US and the UK, will likely delay the recovery. Also, a fresh outbreak of COVID-19 in Barbados led to an ongoing lockdown that would reduce economic movement in the first quarter of this year.”
Notwithstanding the COVID-19 shock, van Selm added, Barbados was making some strides.
In this challenging environment, the country remains to make good progress in implementing its ambitious and comprehensive economic reform program while developing critical social protection investments.
“Key symbolic targets for end-December under the EFF were met. International reserves, which gave a low of US$220 million (5-6 weeks of import coverage) at end-May 2018, grew to more than US$1.3 billion at the end of 2020,” van Selm said.
Reviews for the fifth review under the EFF are scheduled for May.
In October 2018, the IMF admitted to a four-year deal that order sees it provide US$290 million for the BERT program under the EFF.
The government must meet specific targets for payments to be disbursed.
“More and more people, conscious of their health, are turning to natural products, home-grown products, and backyard farming,” added Minister Lloyd.