IMF Country Report No. 22/73

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IMF Country Report No. 22/73

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IMF Country Report No. 22/73

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

2021 ARTICLE IV CONSULTATION—PRESS RELEASE; STAFF REPORT; AND STATEMENT BY THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FOR TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

March 2022

Under Article IV of the IMF’s Articles of Agreement, the IMF holds bilateral discussions with members, usually every year. In the context of the 2021 Article IV consultation with Trinidad and Tobago, the following documents have been released and are included in this package:

  • A Press Release summarizing the views of the Executive Board as expressed during its February 9, 2022, consideration of the staff report that concluded the Article IV consultation with Trinidad and Tobago.

  • The Staff Report prepared by a staff team of the IMF for the Executive Board’s consideration on February 9, 2022, following discussions that ended on November 19, 2021, with the officials of Trinidad and Tobago on economic developments and policies. Based on information available at the time of these discussions, the staff report was completed on January 21, 2022.

  • An Informational Annex prepared by the IMF staff.

  • A Statement by the Executive Director for Trinidad and Tobago.

The IMF’s transparency policy allows for the deletion of market-sensitive information and premature disclosure of the authorities’ policy intentions in published staff reports and other documents.

Copies of this report are available to the public from

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© 2022 International Monetary Fund

Press Release

PR 22/13

IMF Executive Board Concludes 2021 Article IV Consultation with Trinidad and Tobago

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Washington, DC- March 7, 2022: On February 9, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) concluded the Article IV consultation with Trinidad and Tobago.1

The combined effects of COVID-19 and energy production and price shocks took a heavy toll on Trinidad and Tobago’s economy. Real GDP contracted by 7.4 percent in 2020 and is estimated to further contract by about 1 percent in 2021. Inflation remained mostly subdued but the recent surge in international food and energy prices has pushed it up to 3.9 percent by October 2021.The fiscal position worsened significantly during FY2020–21 due to lower energy proceeds and outlays to mitigate the pandemic. The fiscal deficit widened to 11.6 percent of GDP in FY2020and remained elevated at 10.1 percent of GDP in FY2021. As a result of the large deficits and the GDP contraction, central government debt increased from 45.4 percent of GDP in FY2019 to 65.9 percent of GDP in FY2021.

A strong economic recovery is projected for2022, with downside risks predominating. Real GDP growth in 2022 is expected at 5.5 percent, reinforced by the continued policy support and the anticipated recovery in oil and gas production. With demand pressures contained, inflation in 2022 is projected at about 2.8 percent. The fiscal deficit is expected to decline to 7.5 percent of GDP in FY2022, reflecting a combination of high revenue mobilization and modest spending cuts. Central government debt will peak at 68.8 percent of GDP in FY2023 and gradually decline thereafter. Risks are tilted to the downside due to pandemic-related uncertainty, the country’s vulnerability to oil and gas production disruptions, and negative spillovers from global and regional shocks.

Executive Board Assessment2

Directors noted that Trinidad and Tobago was severely hit by the pandemic and commended the authorities’ decisive policy response to mitigate its economic and health impact. While a growth rebound is expected, driven by domestic demand and the recovery in energy production, the outlook is still subject to risks stemming from pandemic-related uncertainties and energy price volatility. Against this background, Directors urged the authorities to accelerate the vaccination rollout alongside supportive macroeconomic policies aimed to minimize scarring and support the recovery, while implementing structural reforms and strengthening climate resilience to promote medium-term growth.

Directors supported continued temporary and targeted spending to mitigate the effects of the pandemic. Once the recovery has strengthened, a growth-friendly and inclusive fiscal consolidation will be needed over the medium term to place public debt on a downward trajectory. To support the fiscal adjustment, Directors encouraged the authorities to adopt a well-designed medium-term fiscal framework with a clear fiscal rule, which would strengthen multi-year fiscal discipline, avoid procyclicality, and mitigate risks. They also highlighted the need to improve public spending efficiency and reduce fiscal transfers to SOEs.

Directors agreed that the current accommodative monetary policy stance is appropriate. Going forward, monetary policy action should remain data dependent and stand ready to change if inflationary pressures materialize, capital outflows intensify, or the recovery falters. Directors stressed the importance of modernizing foreign exchange and money market infrastructure to reduce inefficiencies and imbalances and to support the exchange rate arrangement. They called on the authorities to eliminate exchange restrictions on current payments and multiple currency practices in a planned manner.

Directors welcomed the banking sector’s resilience during the pandemic. They underscored that careful monitoring of financial conditions to detect any buildups of vulnerabilities remains essential and called for further strengthening of the regulatory and supervisory frameworks. Directors commended the country’s successful exit from the Financial Action Task Force’s grey list and emphasized the need for further efforts to strengthen the AM L/CFT framework, including by addressing issues related to tax transparency and exchange of information.

Directors agreed that comprehensive structural reforms are needed to promote the non-energy sector and boost potential growth. They emphasized the importance of strengthening the economy’s resilience to climate change and welcomed the authorities’ commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Directors encouraged the authorities to continue with their efforts to bridge existing data gaps.

Trinidad and Tobago: Selected Economic Indicators, 2017–22

article image
Sources: Trinidad and Tobago authorities; UN Human Development Report; WEO; and IMF staff estimates and projections.

Includes VAT and Financial Intermediation Services Indirectly Measured (FISIM).

Data refer to fiscal year, for example 2019 covers FY2019 (October 2018-September 2019).

Defined as non-energy revenue minus expenditure (net of interest payments) of the central government, as a share of non-energy GDP.

Excluding debt issued for sterilization, public bodies’ debt, and borrowing fromthe CBTT.

Includes central government debt and guaranteed debt of non-self serviced SOEs and public bodies.

Title page

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

STAFF REPORT FOR THE 2021 ARTICLE IV CONSULTATION

January21, 2022

KEY ISSUES

Context. Trinidad and Tobago faced unprecedented challenges in 2020–21. The combined effects of COVID-19 and energy production and price shocks pushed the economy further into recession. A decisive policy response helped contain the virus spread and protect lives and livelihoods. The fiscal position worsened due to significant tax revenues shortfalls, pushing public debt up. The vaccination pace accelerated recently, but vaccine hesitancy remains high, amid a potential new wave of infections.

Outlook and risks. Real GDP growth is projected to rebound strongly in 2022 on the back of continued policy support, the recovery of domestic demand, and higher oil and gas production. Still, output would remain below pre-COVID-19 levels well into the medium term. Risks are tilted to the downside due to pandemic-related uncertainty, the country’s vulnerability to oil and gas production disruptions, and negative spillovers from global and regional shocks.

Focus of the Article IV consultation. Discussions focused on policies to support the economic recovery while safeguarding fiscal and debt sustainability, reinforcing financial sector stability, and accelerating reforms needed to enhance potential growth.

  • Near-term. Continue providing targeted fiscal and financial sector support measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 until the recovery is firmly underway. Monetary policy should remain accommodative if inflation and capital outflow pressures remain contained. The authorities should be vigilant about any build-up of financial vulnerabilities and ensure banks’ capital buffers are adequate.

  • Medium-term. Once the recovery takes hold, focus on implementing an ambitious growth-friendly and inclusive medium-term consolidation strategy to reduce public debt, enhance fiscal transparency, foster confidence and rebuild buffers. Efforts to strengthen the financial supervisory framework should continue.

  • Structural policy. To foster inclusive growth, it will be important to continue nurturing the business environment and facilitating economic transformation and promoting entrepreneurship. Advancing efforts to build a climate-resilient economy is also important.

Approved By

James Morsink (WHD) and Martin Sommer (SPR)

Discussions took place virtually during November 8–19, 2021. The team comprised Roberto Garcia-Saltos (head), Ali Al-Sadiq, Olga Bespalova, Hussein Bidawi, and Beatriz Nunes (all WHD). Reshma Mahabir (OED) participated in the discussions. James Morsink (WHD) attended the concluding meeting. The mission held discussions with Minister of Finance Colm Imbert, Central Bank governor Alvin Hilaire, and their teams, and other public and private sector representatives. Nischel Pedapudi and Anahit Aghababyan (all WHD) assisted with the preparation of this report.

Contents

  • ACRONYMS

  • CONTEXT

  • RECENT DEVELOPMENTS

  • OUTLOOK AND RISKS

  • POLICY DISCUSSIONS

  • A Near-Term Policies to Ensure a Sustained Recovery

  • B. Strengthening the Fiscal Framework

  • C. Modernizing Monetary and Exchange Rate Policy

  • D. Reinforcing Financial Stability and Resilience

  • E. Promoting Inclusive and Sustainable Growth

  • F. Improving Data Adequacy

  • STAFF APPRAISAL

  • BOX

  • 1. COVID-19: Authorities’ Policy Responses

  • FIGURES

  • 1. Real Sector Developments

  • 2. Energy Sector Developments

  • 3. Fiscal Developments

  • 4. External Sector Developments

  • 5. Monetary and Banking Sector Developments

  • 6. Financial Soundness Indicators

  • TABLES

  • 1. Selected Economic Indicators

  • 2. Central Government Operations (In millions of Trinidad and Tobago dollars)

  • 3. Central Government Operations (In percent of GDP)

  • 4. Balance of Payments

  • 5. Monetary Survey

  • 6. Indicators of External and Financial Vulnerability

  • 7. Financial Soundness Indicators

  • ANNEXES

  • I. Implementation of Key Recommendations from the 2018 Article IV Consultation

  • II. Risk Assessment Matrix

  • III. Main Recommendations of the 2020 FSAP

  • IV External Sector Assessment

  • V Debt Sustainability Analysis

  • VI. Building Resilience to Natural Disasters and Climate Change

  • VII. Financial Integrity and Tax Transparency

Acronyms

AEOI

Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information

AM L/C FT

Anti-money Laundering and Combating Terrorism Financing

ARAEM

Assessing Reserve Adequacy

BO

Beneficial Ownership

CA

Current Account

CAPB

Cyclically Adjusted Primary Balance

CAR

Capital Adequacy Ratio

CARTAC

Caribbean Technical Assistance Center

CBTT

Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago

CFATF

Caribbean Financial Action Task Force

C02

Carbon Dioxide Emissions

CR

Reporting Procedure

DIC

Deposit Insurance Corporation

EBA

External Balance Assessment

e-GDDS

Enhanced General Data Dissemination System

EM-DAT

Emergency Events Database

EOIR

Exchange of Information on Request

EU

European Union

FASP

Financial Sector Assessment Program

FATF

Financial Action Task Force

FX

Foreign Exchange

GDP

Gross Domestic Product

GFA

Gross Foreign Asset

GFNs

Gross Financing Needs

GHG

Greenhouse Gas

GIR

Gross International Reserve

HSF

Heritage Stabilization Fund

MAC DSA

Market Access Countries Debt Sustainability Analysis

MER

Mutual Evaluation Report

MOF

Ministry of Finance

MTFF

Medium-term Fiscal Framework

NIIP

Net International Investment Position

NPLs

Non-performing Loans

NSDP

National Summary Data Page

OECD

Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development

OED

Office of Executive Director

RA

Research Assistant

SDR

Special Drawing Rights

SEZ

Special Economic Zone

SMEs

Small and Medium Enterprises

SOEs

State-owned Enterprises

T&TEC

Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission

TA

Technical Assistance

TTSEC

Trinidad and Tobago Securities and Exchange Commission

VAT

Value-added Tax

WASA

Water and Sewerage Authority

WHD

Western Hemisphere Department

1

Under Article IV of the IMF’s Articles of Agreement, the IMF holds bilateral discussions with members, usually every year. A staff team visits the country, collects economic and financial information, and discusses with officials the country’s economic developments and policies. On return to headquarters, the staff prepares a report, which forms the basis for discussion by the Executive Board.

2

At the conclusion of the discussion, the Managing Director, as Chairman of the Board, summarizes the views of Executive Directors, and this summary is transmitted to the country’s authorities. An explanation of any qualifiers used in summings up can be found here: http://www.imf.orc/external/np/sec/misc/qualifiers.htm.

Trinidad and Tobago: 2021 Article IV Consultation-Press Release; Staff Report; and Statement by the Executive Director for Trinidad and Tobago
Author: International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.