Saturday 19 October, 2019

Gopeesingh blames Gov't for Standard and Poor's downgrade

Caroni East MP Dr Tim Gopeesingh says the downgrading of Trinidad and Tobago’s credit rating by international financial agency Standard & Poors (S&P) is as a result of gross mismanagement of the economy by the Rowley regime.

Gopeesingh made the comment in a statement issued on Wednesday.

S&P lowered the long-term foreign and local currency credit rating from BBB+ to BBB on the basis of lower-than-expected oil and gas production and economic growth.

With the reduced revenue base, the institution expressed concerns about the Government’s ability to balance the 2020 budget, which is due within the next three months.

"The PNM Government is obviously reaping the whirlwind of the absence of incentives and other industry strategies to stimulate oil and gas production," Gopeesingh said.

The UNC MP said oil production fell by about 20,000 barrels a day during the life of the administration.

He added that in its last year in office, the government is now seeking to venture into drilling operations. He also questioned why Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has not reported to the country on his recent cross-Atlantic trip to various energy corporations.

Meanwhile, Gopeesingh said the Government has mishandled the restructuring of the state petrochemical sector.

S&P also lowered the transfer and convertibility risk assessment to BBB+ from A.

"This pertains to the possibility that Government-imposed capital and exchange controls would prevent or impede the ability to convert TT dollars into foreign currency. In other words, S&P has fears that the Government would effectively block the release of currency for the payment of international debts," he said.

The Caroni East MP further said the Government has so far exhausted $229 billion with a loss of 55,000 jobs, closure of both state and private sector companies, no Direct Foreign Investments (DRI) and higher inflation.

"The debt-to-Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio has climbed from 43 per cent, during the tenure of the People’s Partnership Administration, to a current 62 per cent. The incompetent Government has not utilised the Infrastructure Development Fund (IDF) to stir economic activity, resulting in the loss of about 20,000 construction jobs and virtual collapse of several contracting firms," he stated.

According to Gopeesingh, the Government has spent large sums on both stalled institutions, including payments to international consultants.

"The current economic dilemma persists despite unparalleled borrowings by the Rowley regime. The downgrade by S&P adds to the decision of Moody’s, another respected ratings institution, to reduce T&T to junk bond status.," Gopeesingh said.

He said the lowering of the credit ratings would lead to an increased cost of borrowing for Trinidad and Tobago’s already struggling economy.


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