Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Christopher Sinckler, said that Government has had to make some alternative arrangements in stabilising the country’s foreign reserves, given the delays with completing the sale of the Barbados National Terminal Company Limited (BNTCL).
Government is banking on $200 million in inflows from that sale to boost the reserves, which had dipped to just under $700 million at the end of December, and to lower the fiscal deficit.
However, the proposed sale of the BNTCL is a matter before the Fair Trading Commission (FTC). Sinckler said the situation as it now stands has delayed the inflows, which Government had been expecting from the sale. “But the process is the process, the law is the law, and you have to wait until those matters are properly resolved,” he said, noting that as such they have had to make alternative arrangements, which were done.
He stated that the Acting Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados, Cleviston Haynes, will shortly be reviewing the economy for the first quarter of 2017.
“Then you will see what is happening with economic growth, what is happening with the reserves. I can say we have seen a stabilisation in the reserves, so we are feeling a little better where that is going, but there is still a lot more work to be done,” he said.
Sinckler spoke to The Barbados Advocate yesterday at the Desmond Haynes Oval where his St. Michael North West Constituency branch hosted a Kite Flying competition.
Sinckler said that given the nature of the issues involved, it is reasonable for the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) to take its time in making a decision on the proposed sale of the BNTCL.
The Commission, which is the regulatory body in Barbados, is currently assessing the proposed sale of the Government-owned entity. Sol and Rubis have shown an interest in acquiring the facility.
The Minister stated that energy is a critical part of the economy.
He pointed out further that because of the structure of the petroleum industry in Barbados, both parties are linked to the proposed sale, and the Commission has to take its time and try to get the best arrangement.
That arrangement, he explained, will allow for investors to achieve a rate of return and for consumers to get the best deal possible, while ensuring that there is competition in the sector.
Sinckler said that the process has been going on for more than 18 months.
“I don’t think it is unreasonable for the process to take this long, because the FTC is reviewing everything, after two months since it was formally presented to them at the beginning of March this year, for a review,” Sinckler told the media.
“It takes time, and my understanding is that the FTC has asked for some clarifications on issues,” he said, adding that it won’t be able to execute until the Court has dealt with the matter.