Friday, January 19, 2018

Economists question Govt’s figures


TWO economists— both university lecturers— are raising questions about Government's actions and words on the economy.

They were reacting to the March 2017 Economic Bulletin from the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (CBTT).

Using data from the bulletin, University of the West Indies (UWI) senior economics lecturer Roger Hosein said in an e-mail on Tuesday: “Table 1 shows that real economic activity for T&T in 2016 according to the data in the March 2017 version of the economic bulletin, produced by the CBTT was provisionally posted at -2.3 per cent. This is lower than that quoted in the United National Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNECLAC) document Preliminary Overview of the Economies of Latin America and the Caribbean 2016 (which said -2.5 per cent) and the 2016 forecast of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) of -2.7 per cent. The UNECLAC in its February (2017) publication cited the growth rate for 2014 and 2015 as -1 per cent and -2.1 per cent respectively. The Review of the Trinidad and Tobago Economy (ROTE 2016) and the Economic Bulletin March 2017 used -0.6 per cent and -0.6 for those same years. Of great interest and concern is that the Economic Bulletin 2017 used the same growth number as the ROTE 2016 although it would have gone to press perhaps six months after. Is this reasonable?”

UWI financial economics lecturer Vaalmikki Arjoon said in a March 13 e-mail that he found it intriguing that the CBTT used its own numbers in the Appendix tables yet appeared to have used Central Statistical Office (CSO) numbers in its own substantive document, the bulletin itself.