Howai: No move to block IMF report
CLAIMS that the Government attempted to withhold publication of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Article IV Report on Trinidad and Tobago have been dismissed by Finance Minister Larry Howai.
In a statement yesterday, Howai described as “entirely inaccurate”, the claim attributed to Leader of the Opposition Dr Keith Rowley that the request for the report to be published came one day before the September 9 national budget presentation in Parliament.
On October 9, Rowley told a People’s National Movement meeting at Edinburgh 500, Chaguanas, that the Government had effectively blocked the IMF from publishing its latest country report before the 2013/2014 budget was presented.
He suggested the IMF report contained serious considerations for the budget debate, including the amount of subsidies the Government was paying to certain State enterprises.
But Howai responded: “The IMF provided the final version of the report to the ministry on August 29, 2013. The report was subsequently submitted to Cabinet on September 13, 2013 for approval to publish the report. Cabinet gave its approval on September 19, 2013 and the ministry conveyed verbal agreement to the IMF to publish the report on September 28, 2013. The report was then published by the IMF on October 3, 2013.”
He added: “It is also very important to note that the report points to a recovery in 2013, with real GDP growth being projected at 1.5 per cent; an overall growth of 2.5 per cent in the non-energy sector driven by the finance, distribution, and construction sectors and a manageable gross non-financial public sector debt at 39 per cent of GDP.”
“In the light of such favourable findings on the progress we have made, it is not really sensible to suggest that this government will attempt to withhold its publication,” Howai said.