Late last month, Williams told reporters “we’ve had negative growth for three years. That’s our challenge, how do we get out of that slump. … The economy has been in a slump. We are waiting on the recovery and the recovery is a bit delayed, let’s put it like that.”
But as he tabled a bill for supplementary budgetary funding of TT$1.5 billion (US$250 million), on Monday, Dookeran, a former central bank governor told legislators “there were strong headlines that were put out on the newspapers about recession.
“I say here today, based on the information we have at the Finance Ministry, Trinidad and Tobago is not in any slump”.
Dookeran blamed the “sensational press” for “taking out of context” Williams’ statements and “placing strong headlines about recession and slump”.
The Finance Minister said there has been a revision of growth rates in all the major economies and to prove his point, cited Brazil, China, India, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States, Singapore, Germany, France, Canada and the Eurozone areas.
He told legislators that Trinidad and Tobago had turned the corner but its projections had to be revised downward from 1.5 per cent to one per cent in the light of the slowdown in the energy sector. He said in the context of what was happening worldwide, this country could feel “a sense of comfort”.
“When I saw the reduction in the growth estimates for 2012, from 1.5 to 1 per cent, I decided to try and find out exactly what was causing that (slowdown) in the energy sector. And after meetings with the Ministry of Energy and the energy sector I was told that this was not surprising. In fact, it was the result of falling investments (from) three years ago, that we are now seeing,” he said.
“When you look at Trinidad and Tobago we had estimated that we had turned the corner and would have moved to growth rate of 1.5 per cent in 2012. The recent figures have suggested there had been a slowdown in certain areas and we will now be projected to move at one per cent in spite of the slowdown, mostly in the energy sector,” he said, noting that the last assessment by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) pointed to economic growth in 2012.