Kamla to Imbert: What is Heritage Fund balance after $1b deposit?

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar. File photo/Sureash Cholai
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar. File photo/Sureash Cholai

AFTER Finance Minister Colm Imbert told the country over $1 billion had been deposited into the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund (HSF), Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar is asking what is the current balance of the nation's savings.

During her response to the near-$58 billion budget, Persad-Bissessar, in a media conference at her Charles Street, Port of Spain office said her team had been consistently asking for information on the HSF and had not been given answers by the Government.

“What he did not tell us was how much is in the HSF. He withdrew $2.5 billion in their seven years,” she said, adding that apart from the withdrawals the investments made internationally would have been negatively affected by the pandemic.

Persad-Bissessar said one concern she had was the “very worrying area of debt.” She said since assuming office, Imbert has put the country in a debt trap and pushed the debt-to-GDP ratio from 46.3 per cent under her administration to 88.7 per cent.

According to the 2021 HSF report, as at the end of September 2021, the HSF’s net asset value was US$5,463.9 million, down from US$5,731.8 million a year earlier. The report added that US$892.7 million had been withdrawn from the fund, with US$600 million used to deal with the pandemic.

Imbert, in informing the country of the deposit, said: "As a result of higher-than-expected oil and gas prices, we have deposited US$163 million, or TT$1.1 billion, into the HSF for intergenerational benefits.”

He boasted that the country's debt-to-GDP ratio has been reduced from 80 per cent in September last year to 70 per cent.

This reduction, he said, will allow the country to access loans from both local and international banks such as the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

Imbert promised to stimulate growth in the economy by allocating $6.2 billion to the Public Sector Investment Programme. This , he said, was some $2 billion more than last year’s allocation of $4.110 billion.

“To create employment, drive development and stimulate economic activity, the PSIP has been increased to $6.2 billion, $2 billion more than fiscal 2022. And while increasing investment in the development programme in 2023, we will continue to pursue our fiscal consolidation objectives which will ultimately lead to reasonable fiscal and debt sustainability.”

The PSIP is the Government’s funded initiatives through the Consolidated Fund and the Infrastructure Development Fund that includes programmes and projects of various ministries and state agencies to enhance socio-economic development as part of the country’s overall vision.


"Kamla to Imbert: What is Heritage Fund balance after $1b deposit?"

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