VEX: Finance Minister Colm Imbert. –
FINANCE Minister Colm Imbert has taken serious umbrage to comments ascribed to economist and senior UWI lecturer Professor Roger Hosein contained in a Sunday Express report.
In fact, Imbert, in a strongly worded press release on Sunday, claimed Hosein’s remarks on the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Article IV Report on the economy, were nothing short of “fallacious” and a product of the economist’s own imagination.
In the recenly published report which is on the IMF’s website, according to Imbert’s press release, the IMF found that, among other things:
* The TT economy was recovering and is supported by higher global energy prices and a rebound of the non-energy sector.
* The financial sector appeared well-capitalized, liquid, and profitable.
* Economic recovery is expected to gain broad-based momentum this year, with real growth of 3.2 per cent in 2023.
* The IMF welcomed Govt’s commitment to balancing the budget over the medium term.
* The IMF welcomed Govt’s efforts in embracing Fintech for financial inclusion and development, while working on mitigating its potential risks.
* It welcoms efforts to strengthen the financial integrity and international tax transparency frameworks.
* It commended TT’s actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and;
* The IMF’s team noted an improvement in the quality, timeliness and coverage of statistics.
Imbert described as “erroneous and ridiculous,” Hosein’s statements in that newspaper report that he (Hosein) preferred to look at the data itself rather than the worded reports since, “the IMF and some of these institutions tend to write flowery…”
Hosein further claimed that if one looked at the data in the IMF report, they would see a disturbing story about the economy.
Imbert hotly contested this.
He said that in the face of “good news,” Hosein “has declared without any rational basis, in an article published in the Express, that the data showed TT having 4.5 per cent reduction in real GDP growth in 2023 compared to 2022.”
This statement by Hosein, Imbert said, was fallacious and appeared to be a product of his own imagination. The minister said “it boggles the mind” as to why the economist would go to “such lengths” to try to discredit the IMF, simply because that agency had commended Government for its management of the economy.
The 2023 Article IV Report, which was endorsed by the IMF’s executive board, is based on data it gathered in a two-week official Article IV visit to TT in March.
The release said IMF officials met with numerous Government agencies, private companies in the energy sector, business organisations and other stakeholders, and that its team “of highly trained, world-class economists, rigorously and comprehensively interrogated all the information presented to it.”
Imbert said there was no data of any kind in the IMF report that would lead any serious person to conclude that TT would have a reduction in real economic growth in 2023 of -4.5 per cent as claimed by Hosein.
Imbert said the Central Statistical Office (CSO) only has published economic data on its website, up to the end of September, and therefore there was no “new and improved data for 2023 that tells a completely different story,” from any recognised or official source, as was claimed by Professor Hosein.
The minister said it was outrageous for Hosein to claim he had access to new and improved data for 2023, “when we are only in May, and the CSO will not be reporting on 2023 economic data for several months.”
He said Hosein’s ridiculous statements are an affront to the hard-working staff of the ministry and an insult to the professionalism of the IMF Mission Team for TT.