Cleviston Haynes, Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados delivered cautiously good news as part of the review of Barbados' economic performance for January to June 2022. During this period, the country's economy grew by 10.5%. Much of this double-digit growth can be attributed to the tourism sector, which although not recovered to pre-pandemic levels, has performed slightly better than anticipated. Other sectors like manufacturing for export and domestic spending have contributed to the economic growth.
Other positive movements in the numbers included the unemployment rate which has steadily declined from its peak at 17.2% in early 2021 to 9.0% in the first quarter for 2022, in line with the easing of Covid-19 restrictions. Both the public and private sectors boosted employment levels, particularly in tourism, wholesale and retail, transport and communications and general services. The Government's job creation programme in 2020 also played a role.
The governor warned that we are not yet out of the storm, and the external economic environment remains 'extremely challenging' due to the Russian-Ukraine conflict and the fall-out from the Covid-19 pandemic. This is still affecting commodity prices, inflation, transportation and electricity costs, and raw materials for the construction sector. Given the island’s import dependency, high energy and food prices are expected to continue to impact domestic prices.
Despite these circumstances, Barbados' international reserves remain relatively stable at approximately Bds $3,008 million, which equates to nearly 34 weeks of imports.
Looking ahead, while the global uncertainty continues, there are positive drivers which can assist Barbados is accelerating its economic recovery, including increasing and sustaining tourist arrivals, accelerating the implementation of investment projects.
You can watch the Governor's presentation in full below: