Senior government minister wants Barbados to save foreign exchange earnings

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Jan 27, CMC – A senior Barbados government minister is warning that the island needs to earn and save foreign exchange as it can no longer or borrow its way out of its circumstances.
Commerce Minister Donville Inniss speaking at the official opening of the motor vehicle dealership, said  that Barbados was currently importing an average of 395 vehicles a month at an average expenditure of almost BDS$10 million (One Barbados dollar =US$0.50 cents).
He said the invoices for the importation of vehicles were settled in US dollars primarily.
“Perhaps we will get a better grasp of why the report issued by the Central Bank recently was so timely and relevant.  Whilst I am satisfied that there is no need for us to panic and perhaps become irrational, it is instructive that purchases like these do not come from a good chunk of our foreign reserves.
“Less I am misinterpreted, I am not suggesting that we curb the importation of motor vehicles but rather that we remind ourselves as to the need to earn and save foreign exchange,” he added.
The International Business Minister noted that when the expenditure on fuel imports is added, as well as the importation of parts and other supplies, there would be a better appreciation of where a lot of the country’s foreign exchange was going.
“A lot of it goes in the vehicles we drive. We are currently spending in excess of one billion dollars per year on the importation, fuelling and operation of vehicles in Barbados. I do not foresee any significant decline in the expenditure on vehicles, in the short to medium term.
“Therefore, our task must lie in how we can earn the money to pay for the vehicles we own and operate, whether they are public or private sector owned and operated,” he said.
Earlier this week, the Central Bank of Barbados said the stock of international reserves at the end of December stood at BDS$681 million, equivalent to 10.3 weeks of imports. In addition, inflows of over BDS$250 million were pending on December 31st.

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