Responding to incredulity surrounding the Minister of Finance’s growth projections for the T&T economy, Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Allyson West has maintained that the forecasts mentioned by Imbert in his mid-year review are reasonable.
Speaking in an interview on CNC3’s Business Show on Wednesday night, West said: “In looking at what was promised by the public sector and the private sector, in terms of what we propose to do to start stimulating the economy and judging the impact that that should have on the economy, the Minister of Finance and his team—the projection that they came up with was reasonable.”
Imbert recently said, based on the country’s fiscal stimulus programme, a decline in GDP in 2020 of just 2.4 per cent is projected, rebounding to growth of 4.7 per cent in 2021, with a continuing inflation rate of one per cent or less.
Economists and the T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce hotly contested these figures.
Meanwhile, West, who is also the Vice-Chair of the Roadmap Committee, noted that the government in coming up with the prediction looked at where T&T is and the country’s plans for the immediate, medium and long term.
She highlighted that the same way the Prime Minster went about coordinating and managing the health response to COVID-19 - it is the very same way the committee is seeking to manage, under his guidance, the economic response to the pandemic.
West contended that the initial report issued by the Road map Committee, was restricted to controlling the impact of the virus, dealing with the most vulnerable and getting the economy re-opened as early as possible.
She continued: “Phase 2 is where we really get into the meat of what we are about, which is, “How do we stimulate the economy to get it not only back on track, but in an advanced stage of development so that we rebound quickly from the COVID decline and we come out with a more robust and dynamic economy?”
When asked about the country’s growth prospects in light lower operating capacity by firms, the currently low commodity prices and T&T’s lack of diversification thrust, West highlighted that the energy sector was always categorized as essential, and continued with its work.
West revealed that T&T is very fortunate, because when it spoke to the energy sector at the beginning of this crisis, most of them assured the country that they were going to continue with the programmes that they have committed.
This comes at a time where throughout the rest of the world, multinational energy companies were curtailing their investment programmes. West said the “projections that we have for production for energy products has not been really impacted that much.”
Additionally, since a new agreement has been decided upon by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Counties (OPEC) to scale back production after the price war between Saudi and Russia.
West said that OPEC members have been keeping with their commitments “and because of that we have seen positive movement in the price from where it is in March to where it is now and we expect that commitment to continue.”
The Vice-Chair of the Roadmap said that the committee expects to present the next report to the public by the end of this month.