In T&T: Business expected Central Bank’s growth downgrade

29 May 2012


“One per cent (growth); we don’t even see that.” Business community well aware of current economic situation.

The country’s business community is “not surprised” by the Central Bank’s downgraded outlook for growth in the local economy.

Last week, the Central Bank released its bi-annual Monetary Policy Report, adjusting its previous estimate of 1.5 per cent economic growth for 2012 to a mere one per cent.

“It’s disappointing, but not surprising,” Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association president Dominic Hadeed told the Express via phone.

“We did not need (Governor Williams) telling us that,” said San Fernando Business Association president Daphne Bartlett. Also speaking to the Express via phone, Bartlett said while Williams relied on statistics, members of her association lived it daily.

“He is projecting one per cent; we don’t even see that. Things are in decline globally, and we don’t have high hopes for the very near future,” she said.

Hadeed said the announcement appeared predicated on the construction sector, especially in relation to the 90-day Trinidad Cement Ltd strike, with sectors outside of construction not really complaining. But, he added, manufacturers were actively seeking new markets.

Trinidad and Tobago Contractors’ Association president Mervyn Chin said he would rather be the eternal optimist, and hoped implementation of major construction projects would get underway soon, but Williams’s projections were still worrying.

“The government has been in office two years now and the economy is facing several negative situations; the public needs to feel reassured,” he said.

“The Central Bank is keeping tabs based on whatever information they can get, and one of their challenges is updated and credible information,” American Chamber of Commerce president Hugh Howard said.

“Evidently, (Williams) sees it as reliable enough to downgrade the Bank’s projections,” Howard continued.

Williams had cited concerns about the crime rate as a detractor to investment.

Howard agreed, saying AmCham, along with other major business chambers, had advocated to Government a 44-point approach to deal with crime. The chambers, Howard said, had also written to National Security Minister John Sandy to discuss the matter further.

“Crime does not only cause injury to people; it has a decidedly direct impact on the economy. If crime is rampant, people will not invest. We see the fallout across sectors: agriculture, manufacturing, retail. It is essential we have crime control,” Howard emphasised.

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