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Oct 3, 2016

Junior Finance Minister Dr. Carla Barnett Maintains Belize’s Economy Will Recover

Minister of State for Finance; former Financial Secretary, and former vice-president at the Caribbean Development Bank, Doctor Carla Barnett, addressed reporters on Friday on the current state of the economy. The country has just completed its Article IV consultation with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which continues to call for cuts to the wage bill, increases in taxes and other measures. The Dean Barrow administration has refused to follow the prescriptions of the I.M.F., and while Doctor Barnett explicitly said she would not commit to any specific measures, she did insist the Government has the ability and competency to correct the economy’s current course. That includes a “halftime report” on the state of the budget, which was read in March.

 

Carla Barnett

Dr. Carla Barnett, Minister of State, Finance

“I am not at all committing myself to any specific fiscal measure at this time. There is a process that we are going through in government in which we are assessing our expenditure side; we are also assessing our revenue side. We’ve been meeting with our various ministries. We are at the midpoint of the budget year, today in fact, and so we want to assess where we are and what we need to do to reach the end of the fiscal year. When we’ve gone through that process, we will know the extent to which we can revise our expenditures within this fiscal year. And if we can reduce our expenditures; it is always difficult to deal with expenditure cuts during a budget year, but it takes a little bit of planning. Let me say that we’ve done this before, under more difficult circumstances. We’ve corrected fiscal imbalances of a much longer and much larger duration and so I am quite certain that we can make the corrections that are necessary on the fiscal side. There are issues as well on the productive sector as well and each of those industries has matters that need to be addressed and to the extent that government can help, government is prepared to have conversations and see what kind of help can be provided. So it’s not only a fiscal issue, it is also to get the economy really moving again. As you know the IMF report is indicating that there is a slow down—we knew that before, but the IMF report confirmed that.”

 

Dr. Barnett, echoing her boss Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dean Barrow, stated that Belize’s current economic malaise will not extend into next year, even allowing for several major industries that still need to recover from the one-two punch of internal problems and the impact of Hurricane Earl.

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