finance minister: Larry Howai

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T&T gets Standard and Poor’s ‘A’ rating

By Ria Taitt Political Editor

Standard and Poor’s has given Trinidad and Tobago A ratings, confirming the strength of the economy.

Speaking at yesterday’s post-Cabinet news conference at the Office of the Prime Minister, St Clair, Finance Minister Larry Howai said the international ratings agency had confirmed Trinidad and Tobago’s “A” long-term and “A1” short-term sovereign credit ratings. 

Howai said Standard and Poor’s had also given the country a transfer and convertibility assessment of “AA” as far as it relates to things like foreign currency. 

He said these ratings were given on the basis that Trinidad and Tobago continued to be characterised by strong external reserves amounting to approximately 12 months of import cover and sustainable debt levels. 

He said this was buttressed by the strong reserves held in the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund which has crossed the US$5 billion mark. 

Howai said, however, that since energy revenues contributed approximately 45 per cent of gross domestic product, diversification continued to be a priority of the Government. 

Howai said Standard and Poor’s sees the rate of economic growth at between 2.5 per cent to three per cent in GDP over the coming years. He said GDP per capita is expected to rise to 2.6 per cent in 2014. 

Asked about concerns within the business community that the economy was not going as it should, Howai said some businesses may feel the impact of competition, which is increasingly global. 

He said the number of people ordering products online was growing.  

He said: “What is happening is apart from the continuing opening of new stores, that the growth in online purchases will be more and more a matter of competition and concern for businesses in Trinidad and Tobago because you can quite easily order most things over the Internet directly from the manufacturer, original distributor or wholesaler.

“The gradual evolution of the retail trade is going to create challenges which our local businesses would have to consider how they are going to meet with that, because the competition is no longer just the store next door, it is becoming Macy’s and Walmart and other stores outside of Trinidad and Tobago.”

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