Imbert: Economic production up by $5b in third quarter of 2021

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Colm Imbert

Minister of Finance Colm Imbert has said Trinidad and Tobago’s economy saw a sharp increase in production in the third quarter of 2021 by $5 billion.

Imbert spoke at a PNM political meeting on Wednesday night at the Diego Martin South Community Centre.

He said a few days ago the Central Statistic Office (CSO) submitted to the ministry its updated economic data for the country, which reflects the third quarter of 2021.

“While I delivered the budget for 2022 in October of 2021, the CSO was only able to give us data up to the end of June, (and) the data was not encouraging,” he said. “Now they have updated the data, and what I am seeing from these figures is that there was tremendous recovery in the TT economy in the third quarter of 2021.

“We haven’t gotten the December 2021 figures yet, but I dare say the production of TT’s economy was at least equal to what was offered in the third quarter – maybe even better, because the economy was opening up.”

Imbert said the economy grew in the three months between July and September 2021.

He said the quarterly gross domestic product (GDP) for that period in 2020, during the height of the pandemic, was $34.6 billion. A year later, in 2021, it had grown by $10 billion to $44.6 billion.

“We estimated for the year our GDP would be $150 million, but with these figures, it is closer to $170 million.”

Imbert also said because of the initial estimate of $150 million, the government was being conservative and had stated its debt-to-GDP ratio for 2021 was about 85 per cent. He said experts used this figure to say the economy would collapse.

“With these figures, our debt-to-GDP figures would drop to below 80 per cent, might go to 75 per cent. I want to see what they will say now.”

Imbert said the fiscal measures the government implemented to curb the impact of the pandemic had led to “tremendous growth.”

He added the construction sector alone had grown by almost 100 per cent in the third quarter of 2021.

“We are in very good hands. (However) we have to deal with the reality. We still have tremendous debt. We had to do it to keep the economy going.”

He said in addition to borrowing, the government also dipped into the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund.

“That’s what it’s there for…We’ve been financing your livelihood and services the government provides through a combination of prudent management, borrowing and drawing from the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund – and with all of that, the fund is still in excellent shape after almost seven years.”