The Government is being advised to develop an immediate contingency plan, amid the double threat of a coronavirus-driven global recession and an oil price war.
According to economist, Dr Roger Hosein, the worsening economic slowdown could shock the country if policy makers fail to take the necessary steps to safeguard the Trinidad and Tobago economy.
Dr Hosein predicts that Russia won’t be willing to go back to the bargaining table with Saudi Arabia any time soon, which could mean another three to six months of stalemate, with a resultant further plunging of global oil prices, and this country’s energy revenues.
The UWI economist suggests the Government announce its plans on how to weather the storm, before the end of the week, so as to quell public concerns.
“It’s not a pretty scenario,” Dr Hosein warns. “It’s going to take tight management; even tighter than we’ve had in last four years. The unemployment rate can rise. We’ll probably have to borrow some money. We may probably even have to dip into the HSF (Heritage and Stabilisation Fund),” he predicts.
He added: “It’s really a challenging time and we will have to do what we need to, to rally the ship and keep it afloat, in this time period.”
According to the Dr Hosein, the country’s reliance on imported food and overall food security also could be affected, given the import and export restrictions being implemented by governments, because of the global coronavirus outbreak.
“We have a food import bill of around US$800 million,” he points out. “We need to hear from the Minister of Agriculture what are the medium term plans should the import of food become compromised in the next three months. How are we going to feed the nation? These are very serious valid concerns, since it seems like we’re facing a perfect storm.”
Dr Hosein shared his assessment of this country’s current situation, in light of the double threats he identified, during an interview on CNC3’s The Morning Brew, earlier today.