The Barbados government has announced a BDS$20 million (One Barbados dollar=US$0.50 cents) “survival” stimulus package even as it braces for significant loss in revenue and increased expenditure as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) that has severely impacted the global economic situation.
Prime Minister Mia Mottley in a statement to Parliament on Friday night on the economic impact of the virus that has so far killed thousands of people globally, said that the stimulus package would provide critical assistance to Barbadians and businesses in light of the expected calamity from the coronavirus crisis.
In a three-hour speech wrapping up debate on the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure that was eventually passed by legislators, Mottley announced the establishment of a Household Survival Programme to help more 1,500 vulnerable families.
Under this stimulus package, the government would provide up to BDS$600 per month to each family through the Welfare Department and there will also be a 40 per cent increase in all rates and fees paid by the Welfare Department to individuals.
“These funds must be the subject of urgent action,” said Mottley, adding that her administration has asked the private sector to match that stimulus package through an Adopt-a-family programme, where those who earn more than BDS$100,000 annually, would also provide up to BDS$600 per month to the fund for families in need.
The fund, which is to be in place for an initial three to six months period was launched Friday at CIBC FirstCaribbean Bank and Mottley said that the details of how to access it would be released in the coming days.
In her statement, Mottley, who is also finance minister, said that the government was expecting at least a 1.5 per cent economic growth, but the COVID-19 pandemic and global economic downturn had changed that outlook
“We have gone back to the start line. This COVID-19 pandemic is expected to impact our economy through its impact on global travel. I have already seen it. We therefore believe that the effects of reduced tourism arrivals will in turn lead to a decline generally in economic activity,” she told legislators.