Mixed picture

Finance Minister Colm Imbert - Angelo Marcelle
Finance Minister Colm Imbert - Angelo Marcelle

IT MIGHT BE hard to imagine it today, but there was once a time when a trip to the cinema cost only a few dollars. This price of admission would buy moviegoers access to a double bill of delight: two movies with an intermission in between. In those day, and for a certain generation – some of whom even paid cents for tickets in earlier times – it was unimaginable that the price of tickets would rise to what they are now.

MovieTowne’s announcement on Thursday of a hike in general admission tickets from $50 to $60 is not only a reminder of the era in which we live, but it is emblematic of the mixed picture that has emerged in relation to this country’s economy.

On the one hand, there is the buoyant outlook of Finance Minister Colm Imbert, expressed through his mid-year review. It is an outlook supported by the recent findings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which indicate the economy is recovering, GDP is expanding, the banking sector is well-capitalised and foreign reserves remain adequate.

“IMF staff welcomes the authorities’ prudent management of the energy revenue windfall,” the agency said in its latest Article IV statement. “The envisaged expenditure envelope in the 2023 budget is appropriate.”

Such findings are matters to crow about and Mr Imbert has, unsurprisingly, wasted little time in shutting down those who have not advanced a rosy outlook and questioned the merit of recent reports.

On the other hand, though, are developments such as MovieTowne’s price increase.

Even the IMF’s recent findings took note of rising inflation which it said reached 8.7 per cent by the end of last year, driven by imported energy and food prices, partial liberalisation of domestic fuel prices in 2022 and flooding.

“Given the continuous rise in costs locally and internationally, adjustments have become necessary,” said MovieTowne, which closed its Chaguanas branch for good in 2020.

Plainly, while macro-economic indicators can suggest a robust situation, there will always be sectors that could perform better, especially those more vulnerable to the imported factors alluded to by the IMF.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine, the complications this conflict poses in terms of the West’s relationship with China and the uncertainties surrounding India’s new-found status as the most populous country in the world have clouded the outlook for all economies.

Mr Imbert announced this week the Government will not make any withdrawal from the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund, which has been topped up over the last few years. But the use of bonds to help clear VAT refund debts – which has been welcomed by chambers – suggest even those who are optimistic are not about to be foolhardy about what might lay ahead.


"Mixed picture"

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