BRIDGETOWN— There is no need for support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for Barbados. This was reiterated by that country’s Prime Minister, Freundel Stuart, as he addressed Barbadians living and working in and around Washington DC during a town hall meeting on Monday at the Bishop John T Walker National Learning Centre of the Holy Comforter Episcopal Church.
“Barbados is holding its own, and it intends to successfully weather the lingering global economic downturn,” he assured. Stuart said that despite the challenges which it currently faced, Barbados still had a lot going for it such as the foreign reserves to support over 18 weeks of imports. In addition, he pointed out that despite the challenging economic times, there were no public service job losses, no public servants’ salary cuts, and health care remained affordable and accessible.
Stuart further stated that the country’s National Insurance and Welfare Departments were still in place to provide a safety net, while free education was still available from nursery to tertiary levels. He added that unemployment benefits were also increased from 26 weeks to 40 weeks, and free bus transportation for school children was introduced in an effort to ensure minimal dislocation to families.
The Barbados prime minister further noted that the Barbados government was now examining the high cost of primary school books with a view to possibly easing some of the burdens on parents. “Where hardships exists that threaten the welfare of our children, government is duty bound to make sure that these hardships are alleviated,” he said.