The ongoing difficulty the public and businesses face in obtaining forex exchange; most often US dollars, is reflected in the September 2017 edition of the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago’s (CBTT) Economic Bulletin.
“Conditions in the foreign exchange market remained tight in the first eight months of 2017. Purchases of foreign exchange from the public by authorised dealers declined by 24.5 percent to US $2.2 billion while sales of foreign exchange to the public fell by 9.0 percent to US $3.4 billion between January and August 2017, when compared with the same period in 2016.”
The CBTT added that over the first eight months of 2017, authorised dealers’ purchases from the energy sector; above US $20,000, reached US $1,286.2 million. This was 25.4 percent below the corresponding period in 2016. Reports by dealers on foreign exchange sales in excess of US $20,000 show that the retail and distribution sector accounted for the largest share; 31.6 percent, followed by the settlement of credit cards; 27.8 percent, and sales to manufacturers; 11.4 percent.
“Additionally, sales to automobile companies amounted to 7.6 percent of total sales of foreign exchange. Meanwhile, the Central Bank sold a total of US $1,275.0 million to authorised dealers in the first eight months of 2017 compared with US $1,047.0 million in the corresponding period of 2016.”
Looking at public sector debt, the CBTT said Central Government domestic debt increased in the nine months to June 2017 despite a fall-off in sterilised debt and contingent liabilities. “The Central Government borrowed roughly $5.7 billion on the domestic market for budgetary support. In particular, in the nine months to June 2017, five bonds were issued under the Development Loans Act.”
The CBTT noted that “the rise in domestic debt by 14.7 percent to $41.2 billion; excluding sterilised securities, was partially offset by principal repayments on existing debt which amounted to $1.2 billion over the three quarters to June 2017. This includes a $476.1 million repayment of CLICO zero-coupon bonds which matured in October 2016.”