...Mixed reactions to Monetary Policy Report

Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Commerce president Moonilal Lalchan said yesterday he was concerned about the Central Bank’s projection of strengthening GDP growth of 2.5 per cent in 2014.
He was responding to data from the Central Bank as it released its Monetary Policy Report for November 2013 in Debe.
The report stated that following a dip in the third quarter of this year, real GDP growth is expected to recover to around 1.2 per cent (year on year) in the fourth quarter.
With regard to growth, Lalchan told the Express by phone that Chamber members had seen “relatively stable” economic performance locally.
But he was concerned about the projected growth for next year, especially with the ongoing downturn in several Caribbean countries that do business with the Trinidad and Tobago private sector.
He pointed to the example of Barbados which last week announced that it would let go 3,000 public sector employees.
American Chamber of Commerce president Hugh Howard suggested yesterday that growth in the first quarter of 2014 would be caused by a “spike in spending” from Christmas and Carnival activities and was not sustainable.
“We have been at pains to point this out. What we need to do is look at growth quarter by quarter then see if growth is picking up,” he said in a phone interview.
Howard was optimistic that public and private sector construction projects scheduled to continue in 2014 could be a good boost for economic development.
But San Juan Business Association president Abraham Ali questioned where the Central Bank was getting its data from.
“The economy is in a bad way. When you look at shopping with Christmas a few days away, things are not as expected. The business community expects a dull Christmas,” he told the Express.
He said businesspeople might get sales in the last two days before Christmas but it was not going to make up for an otherwise “terrible” season.
—Curtis Rampersad
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