||Central Bank Of Barbados
Throughout 2020, the Central Bank of Barbados was involved in a number of initiatives and activities both related to its core business of promoting economic, monetary, and financial stability; and more broadly to supporting and promoting the arts, education, and culture.
This article, the second in a four-part series, looks back at some of the Bank’s activities and initiatives over the past 12 months. Read part one, three and four here.
By the second quarter of the year, Barbadians were living a new normal, one that included online meetings, social distancing, and mask wearing, and the Central Bank of Barbados, like all organisations, had to adapt.
Quarterly Economic Review
The Bank’s quarterly review, which examined Barbados’ economic performance during the first three months of the year, was held virtually. The briefing was highly anticipated, with many wondering how severe the fallout from the pandemic would be.
Governor Haynes revealed that unemployment claims had risen significantly at the end of March and had reached over 20,000 during the first four weeks of April. He also predicted that there would be a double-digit decline in economic activity during the year.
By October, when Governor Haynes reported on the island’s performance up until the end of September, the economy had contracted by an estimated 18 percent.
Caribbean Economic Forum
The Caribbean Economic Forum, has become a staple on the Central Bank’s calendar. However, due to COVID-19, the forum, part of the Bank’s Distinguished Visiting Fellow programme, had to be postponed. It was later reconceived as a six-part virtual event, covering a broad range of topics and featuring panellists from around the globe.
The first edition of 2020 Caribbean Economic Forum: Beyond COVID, brought together four of the region’s central bank governors, Timothy Antoine, from the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank; Richard Byles from Bank of Jamaica, Bank of Guyana’s Gobind Ganga; and Central Bank of Barbados Governor Cleviston Haynes, for a discussion entitled “COVID and Economic Policy: Protecting Jobs, Businesses, and the Economy”.
New COVID-19 Protocols
As an essential business, the Central Bank of Barbados remained open during the national curfew, however, it encouraged the public wherever possible to conduct their business electronically.
In May, as some of the restrictions for the national lockdown were lifted, allowing Barbadians to do more in person business, the Bank introduced new protocols for visitors to its headquarters: people entering the building would have to wear masks as well as sanitise their hands on entry and have their temperature taken. Even with these protocols, however, the Bank encouraged Barbadians to continue to submit their applications and documentation electronically.