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All USD payments to T&T must be approved, come March 1 – Finance Minister

All USD payments to T&T must be approved, come March 1 –  Finance Minister

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From the beginning of next month, all payments in United States dollars to Trinidad and Tobago will require the prior approval of the director of Finance and Planning.

This is the temporary measure announced by the Ministry of Finance, in its attempts to address the problems being experienced by local exporters in repatriating income earned in Trinidad and Tobago.

During the 2018 Budget address last week, Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves said while St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) pays Trinidad and Tobago for its imports in hard currency, our traders and the small farmers of SVG continue to suffer, because we have been unable to arrive at a satisfactory lasting solution with the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago.

The Minister said at a recent meeting with local commercial banks, a proposal was made that payments to Trinidad and Tobago be conducted in TT$. Once implemented, this measure will bring relief to the situation, he said.

According to Gonsalves, the banks have indicated that they will need to discuss the proposal with their head offices, but the fate of our farmers and traders “cannot wait indefinitely on corporate consensus in far-flung bankers’ boardrooms.”

“As such, in order to ensure that our farmers and other exporters receive timely payments for their sales to and from Trinidad and Tobago, I hereby announce that, as of 1 March 2018, the Ministry of Finance will enforce the relevant provisions of the Exchange Control Act with regards to payments in United States Dollars from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to Trinidad and Tobago. Accordingly, all USD payments to Trinidad and Tobago will require the prior approval of the Director of Finance and Planning. The Ministry of Finance will, of course, be happy to revisit this decision in the future if all parties can arrive at a less bureaucratically cumbersome solution. It is wrong and unfair for St Vincent and the Grenadines to be so disadvantaged in this matter,” the Minister said.

Trinidad and Tobago, over the last five years, has enjoyed a trade surplus, on average, of $149.9 million annually with SVG. Over the last five years, SVG imported $167.1 million annually from Trinidad and Tobago while exporting an average of $17.2 million to Trinidad and Tobago.

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