FINANCE Minister Colm Imbert said the Central Statistical Office (CSO) will no longer be doing economic forecasting and this function will be taken over by a new unit in the Finance Ministry.
Imbert yesterday noted a provision for a Cabinet-approved restructuring of Finance Ministry to separate economic management division into debt management and economic management. He said it was found to be a bit inefficient to have one unit dealing with both the fiscal side, which is the budgetary allocation and credit rating agencies, and also debt management.
Imbert said economic management unit will deal with forecasting and the CSO will no longer be doing economic forecasting. He added that it had been the practice for about 30 years for the CSO to do projections but all international agencies had told TT that the CSO should not be involved in forecasting but only in actual data. He said the CSO will check the unit’s forecast at the end of the year and replace it so the CSO figures will become the official figures.
Imbert said this year the World Bank projection was used for 2019. Chaguanas East MP Fazal Karim noted an increase of almost $8 million and Imbert said this was from fees which include a provision for analytical services from rating agencies. He said the country added another rating agency–Fitch–to complete the “big three” with Standard and Poor’s (S&P) and Moody’s.
Caroni Central MP Dr Bhoendradat Tewarie said Fitch had never reported on the country and Imbert clarified that Fitch had never reported publicly but privately. Imbert said when a rating agency is engaged the choice can be made for a public or private rating but with a public rating “it means you are locked into them almost for life because they have to keep following up the country every six months, every three months.
“So we have not yet made the decision to lock in into Fitch. We already have S&P and Moody’s. I am not permitted to say much (about the Fitch rating) except that it is a very favourable rating. I hate to burst your bubble.”