Western Hemisphere > Trinidad and Tobago

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Mr. Serhan Cevik and Vibha Nanda
Fiscal sustainability remains a paramount challenge for small economies with high debt and greater vulnerability to climate change. This paper applies the model-based sustainability test for fiscal policy in a panel of 16 Caribbean countries during the period 1980–2018. The results indicate that the coefficient on lagged government debt is positive and statistically significant, implying that fiscal policy in the Caribbean takes corrective actions to counteract an increase in the debt-to-GDP ratio. Nonlinear estimations, however, show that the quadratic debt parameter is negative, which indicates that fiscal policy response is not adequate to ensure sustainability at higher levels of debt. We also find that the fiscal stance tends to be countercyclical on average during the sample period. These empirical results confirm that maintaining prudent fiscal policies and implementing growth-enhancing structural reforms are necessary to build fiscal buffers and ensure debt sustainability with high probability even when negative shocks occur over the long term.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This Selected Issues paper focuses on the impact of adjusting to commodity shocks in Trinidad and Tobago. With commodity resources being nonrenewable, developing a long-term strategy can help avoid unsustainable policies and ensure greater intergenerational equity. Recent country experiences highlight the benefits of precautionary buffers in smoothing fiscal adjustment process. Prudent and countercyclical fiscal policy implementation, structural reforms, and economic diversification can help contain the impact of commodity price booms and busts. Strong fiscal institutions are needed to help achieve and sustain the fiscal adjustment. Different adjustment strategies may be feasible depending on the needed size of the adjustment and country-specific circumstances. Trinidad and Tobago have faced several years of weak or negative growth on the back of terms-of-trade and energy supply shocks. A well-designed fiscal framework that considers potential uncertainties associated with commodity cycles can help improve fiscal management. Countercyclical policy implementation would help smooth the impact of commodity-induced sharp fluctuations in the economy.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This 2018 Article IV Consultation highlights that Trinidad and Tobago is slowly recovering from a deep recession. The economy continued to contract but at a slower pace, underpinned by the strong recovery in gas production, while weak activity in construction, financial services, and trade, continued foreign exchange shortages, and slow pace of public investment dampened non-energy sector growth. Positive growth should return from 2018 as the recovery takes hold in both sectors. Good progress has been made in fiscal consolidation through spending cuts, but public debt continued to rise, approaching the government’s soft target of 65 percent of GDP. Economic prospects are expected to improve over the medium term, but remain heavily dependent on the energy sector.
Keyra Primus
Managing resource revenues is a critical policy issue for small open resource-rich countries. This paper uses an open economy dynamic stochastic general equilibrium model to analyze the transmission of resource price shocks and a shock to resource production in the Trinidad and Tobago economy. It also applies alternative fiscal rules to determine the optimal allocation of resource windfalls between spending today and saving in a sovereign wealth fund. The results show that spending all the resource windfall on consumption and investment creates more volatility and amplifies Dutch disease effects, when compared to the case where all the excess revenues are saved. Also, neither a policy of full spending nor full saving of the surplus revenue inflows is optimal if the government is concerned about both household welfare and fiscal stability. In order to minimize deviations from both objectives, the optimal fiscal response suggests that a larger fraction of the resource windfalls should be saved.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This paper discusses economic developments, outlook, and risks in Trinidad and Tobago. The economic output of Trinidad and Tobago has continued to shrink. Ongoing maintenance and further declines in gas and oil production are estimated to have driven energy output 4.7 percent lower (year over year) as of September 2015. The longstanding current account surplus turned into a 5.4 percent of GDP deficit in 2015. The significant terms-of-trade shock implies that the real effective exchange rate has become more overvalued. Risks to growth are tilted to the downside, and much will depend on the authorities’ ability to navigate the transition to the lower energy price environment.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This paper reviews the historical background of fuel subsidies in Trinidad and Tobago, discusses their fiscal impact and the inflationary impact of subsidy reform, summarizes the regressive distribution of subsidy benefits, focuses on the negative externalities caused by fuel subsidies and the environmental and traffic benefits of phasing them out, and discusses key factors contributing to successful reforms. Fuel subsidies in Trinidad and Tobago, established in 1974, increased dramatically owing to rising global crude oil price in the past few years and led to a growing debate on the costs and benefits of subsidy reform. Fuel subsidies have significantly contributed to the country’s procyclical fiscal stance.
International Monetary Fund. African Dept.
This paper discusses a few selected issues of the Nigerian economy—options and strategies for a fiscal rule for oil wealth management, enhancing the effectiveness of monetary policy, and recent developments and prospects of capital flow. Despite its diversified economy, Nigeria’s fiscal policy is heavily dependent on the oil sector. This paper explores options for a formalized rule-based approach to setting a “depoliticized” budget oil price. Two boom-and-bust episodes since early 2000 have highlighted the challenges in the current monetary policy framework. Nigeria has also been characterized by sizable capital outflows, which have diminished recently.
Ms. Elva Bova, Mr. Paulo A Medas, and Mr. Tigran Poghosyan
Resource-rich countries face large and persistent shocks, especially coming from volatile commodity prices. Given the severity of the shocks, it would be expected that these countries adopt countercyclical fiscal policies to help shield the domestic economy. Taking advantage of a new dataset covering 48 non-renewable commodity exporters for the period 1970-2014, we investigate whether fiscal policy does indeed play a stabilizing role. Our analysis shows that fiscal policy tends to have a procyclical bias (mainly via expenditures) and, contrary to others, we do not find evidence that this bias has declined in recent years. Adoption of fiscal rules does not seem to reduce procyclicality in a significant way, but the quality of political institutions does matter. Finally, non-commodity revenues tend to respond only to persistent changes in commodity prices.