NEW HQ: Finance Minister Larry Howai, left, greets Gopalan Srinivasan, chairman, The New India Assurance Co Ltd of Mumbai, India, at the opening yesterday of the company's regional headquarters at Victoria Avenue, Port of Spain. Looking on, at right, is Inspector of Financial Institutions Carl Hiralal. The new office is the base for operations locally, Dominica, St Lucia and St Maarten with potential expansion to Guyana and Suriname. —Photo: Curtis Chase

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Howai forecasts two per cent growth

By Joel Julien joel.julien@trinidadexpress.com

THE economy is expected to grow by more than two per cent this year, Finance Minister Larry Howai has said.

This confidence is also shared by two of the world's major credit rating agencies, Moody's Investors Service and Standard and Poor's, he said.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has also expressed confidence in the country's economic growth this year, he added.

Howai was speaking on Tuesday night as the Lower House debated a motion to approve the Finance (Supplementation and Variation of Appropriation) (Financial Year 2012) Bill, 2013.

"The economy remains strong as we close the accounts," Howai stated.

"While we had originally projected a budget deficit of well over four per cent, the budget deficit came in at two per cent," he said.

He expected fiscal year 2012 to show at least one per cent growth.

"I expect that 2012 would show at least a one per cent growth based on improvements in the performance of the non-energy sector," he said.

Howai said the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund's (HSF) balance at the end of fiscal 2012 was US$4.7 billion.

"I expect that by the end of this year that fund will be well in excess of US$5 billion," he said.

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