Prime Minister, Freundel Stuart, briefs members of the local press, after the official press conference, following the LIAT shareholders meeting. (C.Pitt/BGIS)
By Julia Rawlins-Bentham
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (BGIS) -- It's just an opinion! That's the response of Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to the Standard and Poor's downgrade of Barbados to "junk status", as he stated: "I am not perturbed by the expression of the opinion of the rating agency."
Speaking to the media following a LIAT shareholders meeting last Friday, Stuart told Barbadians there was no cause for alarm.
"Understand that the rating agency expressed an opinion... but the government has matters under control in the context of our plan to restructure the economy and to ensure that the quality of life of Barbadians is not impaired," he said.
And, he said, government will continue to restructure the economy with courage and determination without apology.
"...it has to be done because the economy has been proved to be vulnerable in the context of its present structure," he explained.
Stuart noted that the country was facing challenges as the world went through its worst crisis in 100 years.
"If in that context the economy of Barbados is put under scrutiny, and Standard and Poor's has come to the conclusion that Barbados should be downgraded that is their opinion.
"They said ‘it is our view that', somewhere else in the report they said ‘we believe that', [and] I accept that. They are entitled to an opinion. What unites all human beings is that for good, ill, wise or unwise, sensibly or foolishly, we are all entitled to an opinion," he pointed out.
He further highlighted that another rating agency also downgraded Barbados last year, but held a different opinion this year.
The prime minister added that the recently laid budget in Parliament to confront the challenges being faced by Barbados had received national buy-in.
"We are satisfied that the policies we put in place to restructure the economy of Barbados are the right policies," he said.
Stuart told reporters that Standard and Poor's did not criticise any of government's policy initiatives that were put in place, nor say that it had done the wrong thing.
"What it said was that events beyond Barbados' shores, and therefore events outside of Barbados' control could cause Barbados' economic performance to weaken," he said.
Despite this he assured Barbadians that the quality and content of life will not change as a result of anything said by Standard and Poor's.
"What I can tell you is this, we have over 10 000 young people in summer camps, that is going to continue. When the school term starts, every child of nursery, primary and secondary school education will be going to school in Barbados.
"The services at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and our polyclinics will continue; the services at our Polytechnic will continue too; our transport services which move people about this country, and which take our children to school for free...will continue," the prime minister stated.