TT Automotive Dealers Association president Visham Babwah is calling on Finance Minister Colm Imbert to clarify his statement that the importation of cars was the largest consumer of foreign exchange. He said Imbert had to identify whether this was new car dealers or the foreign used sector.
At last Friday’s parliamentary sitting, Imbert said US$3 billion in foreign exchange was spent in credit card purchases over the last three years with one of the largest consumers of foreign exchange being the importation of motor cars.
However, Babwah said credit card use had become widespread because of the inability to access forex through the local banking system.
“So people have turned to use their credit cards which is having an impact to on the prices because of the credit card charges that would apply,’ he said.
“And the issue about the automotive sector being the largest consumers of foreign exchange, what ministers must say when they make this type of statement, they must categorise it because once you talk about forex and the automotive industry, people immediately think about the foreign used cars. The Minister of Trade in 2016 had said this was where the leakage of forex was and it was wrong and misleading and it is still misleading,” he said.
Babwah said Government had an obligation to tell the country how much forex was allocated to the various new car dealers, as well to the foreign used sector, so there would be a better understanding of which sector was using significantly more than the others.
Imbert yesterday restated that credit card purchases over the last three years used up 23 per cent of the foreign exchange available in the entire banking system. He also said the amount of foreign exchange used to make credit cards purchases in 2017 was US$1.2 billion, out of a total of US$5.2 billion in foreign exchange in the banking system last year.