Shortage of U.S. currency hurting T&T business
PORT OF SPAIN – A number of sectors of the business community are saying the unavailability of United States currency continues to affect their operations because less than half of their demands for foreign exchange is being met on a monthly basis.
These were some of the findings of a survey of members of the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Commerce conducted by the business group for the first quarter of 2015.
The chamber’s Trade and Business Development Unit in an e-mail analysis last week noted: “Whilst over the past few years the business community of Trinidad and Tobago has been experiencing increased difficulty in accessing adequate supplies of foreign currency, this impediment to business operations has been exacerbated since the beginning of 2014.
This environment has created major problems for local businesses resulting inter alia in major delays in the completion of contracts, loss of business and the development of adverse relationships with foreign suppliers.”
For the first quarter of 2015 respondents from various sectors of the business community (which include financial, shipping, manufacturing, construction, food and hospitality, distribution, security and consulting) expressed that the unavailability of foreign currency has greatly affected their businesses making it difficult to operate, compete and expand, the chamber said.
“Ninety per cent of respondents to our Forex Survey need US currency to operate their business and 75 per cent indicated that the required currency is also more difficult to obtain than before. It is important to acknowledge that the foreign currency problem in Trinidad and Tobago still needs to be adequately addressed.”
Fifty-two per cent of the respondents indicated that they require more than US$250 000 monthly to operate their business efficiently and meet other business requirements. It is important to note that 54 per cent of respondents indicated that less than half of this demand is being satisfied monthly.
Long waiting times for foreign currency are being experienced, with 42 per cent stating that they wait more than one month. Most businesses in the survey (56 per cent) also admitted that in the hope of improving their chances of receiving the required currency, they still split their requests amongst several banks. However this has not greatly improved their position,” the chamber’s unit stated.
In its latest injection earlier this month, the Central Bank sold US$60 million to the financial system to ease demand from customers.
Last Wednesday, Trade Minister Vasant Bharath told the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association’s (TTMA) annual meeting at the Hilton Trinidad, St Ann’s there was US$5 billion sitting in customers’ bank accounts which was being “saved” and not put back into the economy. (Trinidad Express)