Prime Minister Mia Mottley is now in Washington to meet with the world’s major multilateral lenders and American lawmakers, in a bid to ease the country’s foreign debt burden and explain the administration’s new financial services laws. She told the radio call-in programme Brass Tacks Sunday on Voice of Barbados: “Over the next two days I will have meetings with the Inter-American Development Bank’s Caribbean grouping, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, along with the US Congress and the Financial Services Commission. We wanted to make sure we had as many people on board with the changes we have made, and only yesterday we were called to meet in Romania with the European Union to discuss how these changes will affect our relationship with them.”
Mottley said talks were continuing with overseas creditors and on reducing the level of indebtedness.
She told the programme: “The public will be advised shortly on what we will be doing regarding our foreign debt situation. This is now the smallest part, but we know we will have to bring resolution to that in the next few months. Others have recognised this as well and have not made this a prerequisite to anything we have now signed.”
Likening the economic reconstruction effort to a marathon, she said: “We have to stay the course and remain focussed. The country was suffering for a decade, so we need to give things a chance. The medicine being applied is far less bitter than it would have been. There were those who thought we should not have restructured our local and foreign debt, but in the end we will save millions in the amortization of the principals of those loans.”
The Prime Minister suggested that without her administration’s intervention, the state of the economy could have worsened, and would have led 10,000 public workers losing their jobs rather than the planned 2,500 job cuts.
Noting that Government had been consulting with the tripartite Social Partnership on aspects of the restructuring process, she also backed the restriction of overtime pay in the public sector as a job-saving exercise.
Mottley said: “The restriction of overtime in an effort to save jobs came from the Social Partnership, not the Government, and in all honesty, if we can restrict overtime so we don’t send more people home this is a good thing.”
The Prime Minister said the economic recovery programme is going well and suggested that Barbados is regaining its reputation for social and economic stability.