TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO has accessed US$1.15 billion (TT$7.76 billion) in funding from the CAF – Development Bank of Latin America including for covid19 support, said CAF’s representative to TT Gianpiero Leoncini.
Speaking with Newsday during a virtual interview, Leoncini said CAF has provided covid19 funding for several countries in Latin America and TT specifically for the health sector.
He said the TT Government reacted very quickly to the covid19 pandemic and has been very efficient in managing the crisis. “They were prepared.”
CAF signed two loans with TT to respond to the health emergency caused by covid19 and to mitigate the economic, financial and social effects of the pandemic in the country.
The first loan, of US$100 million (TT$676 million), will provide financial support to the Government’s economic programmes, implemented to contain the social, economic and financial emergencies generated by covid19, and aims to have a counter cyclical impact on the country’s economy.
Leoncini explained this loan, which is for budget support, was provided from a credit line created specifically for the impact of covid19 in Latin America and the Caribbean.
“We offered very rapid support for member countries.”
The second loan of US$50 million (TT$338 million) will contribute to strengthen TT’s health system capacity to respond to the crisis caused by covid19, through direct financial resources and the recognition of expenses and investments aimed at reducing the risk, or mitigating the impact, of the pandemic on the health of the population.
Leoncini explained this loan was from contingent credit from 2014 and was set up specifically for pandemics. It was originally envisioned for Ebola but it was not accessed for that purpose.
These two loans were preceded by a US$400,000 (TT$2.7 million) donation that the multilateral organisation made to the country on April 3 to help in the fight against the spread of the pandemic.
CAF has also provided technical assistance by organising capacity-building webinars for the country’s health personnel. The loans were signed at the Ministry of Finance, Eric Williams Finance Building, by Finance Minister Colm Imbert and Leoncini.
To cope with the effects of the pandemic in Latin America, in early March 2020, CAF offered a regional credit line of US$50 million per country to address the health emergency, as well as a grant of US$400,000 per country, and a regional emergency credit line of US$2.5 billion (TT$17 billion) to support countercyclical economic measures.
Leoncini said countries require help on the macroeconomic side due to covid19 and CAF has provided more than US$3 billion in support. He reported 11 countries have drawn from the line of credit including some non-members like Barbados and the Dominican Republic.
Leoncini said, for TT the $100 million loan has a 20-year term while the $50 million loan has a 12-year term. He said CAF was offering the lowest interest rates in the bank’s history though he was not able to state the interest rate at the time of the interview.
And how does the level of support accessed by TT compare to other member states? Leoncini said that it was similar to countries like Panama, Uruguay and Paraguay. Countries like Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Argentina have a larger share of the portfolio.