BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Monday February 27, 2017 – Business confidence in Barbados is at an all-time low in the wake of recent grim economic reports, a recent survey has found.
Preliminary findings from the latest Business Outlook 2017, conducted by local firm Abelian Consulting Services Inc., revealed that the level of confidence among businesses had declined significantly to minus eight percent, compared to 15 percent during the first quarter of last year.
According to the quarterly survey, local companies are expecting little to no profits and no real new employment opportunities over the next three months.
“We have come to a situation where that [business confidence] now is minus eight per cent, which essentially is saying, at the moment in the private sector there are more people who think that overall things are not going to get much better,” Chief Executive Officer Ryan Straughn told an Ernst & Young/Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry Breakfast forum.
The news comes at the height of turbulence in the Barbados economy.
In its latest economic report issued in January, the Central Bank raised a red flag that the island’s foreign reserves had fallen to its lowest level in 14 years – 10.3 weeks of import, which is below the benchmark 12 weeks of import.
Earlier this month, the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank forecasted that the island would be among seven of its 19 borrowing members countries that would record economic growth of less than two percent this year.
It estimated that growth would be in the range of 1.8 percent, a marginal gain on the 1.6 posted in 2016.
Straughn, an economist, said government activity was a major concern for the island’s business.
“For the first time now we are seeing it is at its lowest since we started looking at this. So, fewer executives believe now in their own ability to withstand the current situation as it relates to the foreign exchange crisis or the government’s debt problem,” he said.
“Today everybody is pretty much pessimistic about the next three months. They are even more pessimistic about the next six months and you can see that for the most part, a year out, it is the same level as the short term. So there is no expectation right now among the private sector that looking a year ahead, that things are going to be any better,” Straughn cautioned.