FINANCE MINISTER COLM IMBERT lauded the Central Statistical Office for having “quite up-to-date” information on its platform since it signed on to a system managed by the International Monetary Fund.
“I must congratulate them,” the minister said at the ICATT conference at the Hyatt Regency in Port of Spain. “Since they entered into this exchange of information system with the IMF, together with the Ministry of Finance, it is now quite up to date in terms of reporting GDP and other major statistics, whereas you might (previously) have had to wait two years to get that information. The CSO, as far as I can see, is now compliant with international requirements.”
Imbert said institutional strengthening is a major factor in ensuring greater monetary and financial stability and improved debt management. He said enhancing institutional capacity was a top-priority objective for Government.
“The Ministry of Finance is also driving sustainability that supports the transformational agenda within the public service through the implementation of an integrated financial management information system (IFMIS), with one central database and operation on one single entry point for all classifications of fiscal data. This new system will become fully operational in 2023 and allow us to see our financial situation in real time,” he said.
He said the system would support the adoption of the cash-basis international public-sector accounting standards (IPSAS), the development of a cash-management strategy which would include active cash-management and cash-flow forecasting, implementation of a treasury single account (TSA) and a process redesign to support automated cash management.
Imbert added that with shocks such as covid19 and supply-chain disruptions coming out of the Russia/Ukraine conflict and other shocks, government borrowing was an important tool that took the nation out of severe deficits, and was helpful in covering short-term imbalances between revenues and expenditures.
But he said it caused an increased debt-to-GDP ratio.
“To maintain a good debt-carrying capacity, the capability of several institutions such as the Debt Management Division, the Treasury Division and the Investments Division in the Ministry of Finance, as well as the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago, have been strengthened to execute their role of monitoring and evaluating debt levels,” he said.
He said strengthening these institutions helped in reducing the debt-to-GDP ratio, and Government’s fiscal consolidation initiatives and revenue-enhancing policies, married with being discerning government spending, had resulted in debt trending downward from 90 per cent of GDP in 2021 to 70 per cent in 2022.