The government has been making efforts to relieve the island's economic dependence on sugar by establishing industries and encouraging tourism. Government planning has been in operation since 1951. In 1957, the Barbados Development Board (now the Barbados Industrial Development Corp.) was established. The development plan for 1979–83 called for expansion of the construction sector. During 1962–86, multilateral aid to Barbados totaled US $123.1 million, of which 24% was from the IDB and 57% from the World Bank.
The economy recovered well since the recession in 1990, with steady growth rates, low inflation, and falling unemployment. The global economic downturn and decrease in tourism that began in 2001 slowed the economy, however. Anticipation of a thriving offshore financial sector, and the eventual elimination of excess trade restrictions, encouraged the government to revamp the economic system, shifting its emphasis from industrial growth to the services sector. The government has also moved along the path of privatization, and has encouraged foreign investment.