The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in a statement yesterday that Trinidad and Tobago is poised for a modest recovery and the non-energy sector should grow around 2.5 per cent, while core inflation remains moderate.
It also said structural reforms were needed to foster a diversified economic base.
In light of this positive projection, Planning Minister Dr Bhoe Tewarie said in a telephone interview yesterday, “We are pleased but cautious. There is still a lot of work to be done.”
However, former prime minister Basdeo Panday, economist Indera Sagewan-Alli and People’s National Movement (PNM) Senator Fitzgerald Hinds said issues, including diversification, debt, competitiveness and stimulation of the agricultural sector, have to be addressed.
“I think the IMF report and forecast of what is likely to happen is very positive and we (People’s Partnership Government) think it is in keeping with our stewardship,” said Tewarie.
“The rate of core inflation registered at 5.6 per cent. Unemployment figures are relatively good...we know there is a fair amount of unemployment. The growth in the non-energy sector, we feel it is escalating in 2014. It is in keeping with what is likely to happen here.”
Tewarie said they will strive to achieve better co-ordination around the 2013-2014 national budget and the Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP).
The $61 billion budget was presented by Finance Minister Larry Howai on September 9.
Sagewan-Alli, executive director of the Caribbean Centre for Competitiveness, said she was not surprised the IMF was “projecting positive growth”.
But she said there were two challenges--implementation of the PSIP and increasing the speed of diversification efforts.
“There is nothing to suggest that trend should not continue. For a few years, we have seen a recurrence of PSIP expenditure being less than budgeted. It’s time to implement its PSIP programme. This also indicates the absence of domestic capacity for implementation. The second challenge is the speed of diversification efforts. While the energy sector continues to be the significant player, it’s basically stagnant there.”
She said it was mandatory for new growth in the area of diversification.
Panday said: “We are surviving on oil. It will appear the rest of the economy remains basically stagnant. We have to attract investors, we have to stimulate the agricultural sector.”
Hinds said he was “concerned about the mounting and phenomental debt which now stands at $91 billion”.