FINANCE MINISTER Colm Imbert, in the Senate on Tuesday, assured that Government would do all it could to raise the funds to pay for vaccines, once available.
Speaking during a motion moved by Opposition Senator Wade Mark on the topic, "Reconsider borrowing policy and outline plans to fulfil debt servicing obligations," Imbert denied Marks claim that the Government failed to set aside funds to purchase vaccines.
“I will say categorically that that is untrue. This government has allocated and will provide any funding whatsoever required for vaccines as and when they (vaccines) become available. That is a commitment we have made in the Ministry of Finance.
"Whatever the cost is, the Government, through the Ministry of Finance, will source the funding to procure vaccines.”
In raising the motion, Mark said the mismanagement of the economy by the Government saw the debt-to-GDP ratio increasing, being projected to reach as high as 33 per cent by the end of the fiscal year.
That too was rubbished by Imbert who said, in the last six months, that ratio increased by two per cent.
Because of the country’s strategic borrowing, Imbert said, Trinidad and Tobago was able to tackle the pandemic resulting in one of the lowest viral loads in the world.
The Government managed so well, he boasted, that TT is now in the final stages of a US$20 million loan from the World Bank even after securing other loans and raising a US$500 million bond for ten years with a 4.5 per cent interest rate.
He added that there were offers from other international agencies and donor countries for funding to tackle covid19.
“In the middle of the pandemic, the Government of TT was able to maintain an investment-grade standard rating with Standard and Poor’s, while countries all over the world were losing their ratings. We in TT, using expert consultants that we had out of Europe and experts in TT, we maintained our investment-grade rating and our credit rating with Moody’s.”
Mark, in piloting the private motion, said: “If measures are not taken soonest, this country will sink into the virtual debt trap. Given the level of borrowing during the pandemic debt to GDP rose to 82.9 per cent. Central Bank data said we are rushing to 90 per cent debt to GDP."
He added, "What is deeply alarming and disturbing is borrowed money is being utilised unproductively. This is a recipe for monumental economic disaster which is not sustainable.”
In wrapping up his motion, Mark said the plans of the Government, by refinancing loans, is simply passing the burden down to the children and the Government was “mortgaging our children’s future.”
The motion was not passed.