FINANCE Minister Colm Imbert said the absence of an International Monetary Fund (IMF) Article IV consultation will not affect planning for the 2019/2020 budget.
Imbert made this point at yesterday’s post-Cabinet news conference at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s.
Imbert said the IMF is assembling a team to come to TT but no date has been fixed as yet. As a member of the IMF, since its inception in 1945, Imbert said TT has agreed to an Article IV consultation on a regular basis. He added the IMF is not a static organisation and has people on assignment all over the world.
“When they come, they look at our economy and they advise us on what they think we should do.” Imbert also explained there is an 18-month period between Article IV consultations, and TT’s last consultation happened in mid 2018.
He said unlike Caricom countries like Jamaica, Barbados and Grenada, “TT is not in an IMF programme.”
Since TT is not borrowing money from the IMF, is not in a transitional or standby programme and “is not a basket case,” Imbert said the country has no obligation to do anything that the IMF might recommend.
The last time TT was in an IMF programme was under the NAR government back in the 1980s.
Imbert said the IMF has been recommending, for the last two years, that Government devalue the TT dollar.
“We have not. We have taken a deliberate policy decision that we don’t need to do that.” The IMF is a lender of last resort and countries go to it when they are “gone through,” Imbert said, adding that TT is nowhere close to that.
In response to questions sent by Newsday, the IMF said in an e-mail: “The timing of the next Article IV mission has not been set at this stage. We will be happy to inform you when the date is decided.”
The fund said its 2018 Article IV consultation was concluded on August 31, 2018.
The staff report of the consultation and a press release was published one month later.
Article IV consultations take place once every 12 months, within a margin of several months, with the exact timing determined jointly between the country authorities and the IMF team.