Imbert: T&T has lost US$2.5 billion annually in foreign exchange earnings since 2014

Friday, June 2, 2017 - 15:00

Finance Minister Colm Imbert says that while he sympathises with two restaurants that have been forced to close down, he 's hoping that it could trigger a greater reliance on locally produced food products.

The restaurants have said that foreign exchange shortages are responsible for their closures.

Speaking in Parliament today, Minister Imbert said that he had seen where one of the restaurants indicated that the arrangement between the franchise holder and the local operator, was for the use of only imported food products.

The Minister said that the country has been losing on average, US$2.5 billion in foreign earnings annually since 2014.

In 2015, he said the banks' purchases of foreign currency from the public amounted to US$4.9 billion.

However, in that year, sales of foreign exchange amounted to US$7.4 billion, causing the Central Bank to inject a record US$2.6 billion into the system.

In 2016 purchases from the public were US$4.3 billion while sales amounted to US$5.8 billion, causing Central Bank to inject US$1.8 billion into the system.

He noted that between January and April 2016, there were purchases of US$1.5 billion from the public while sales amounted to US$18 billion, causing the Central Bank to inject just over US$400 million.

For the corresponding period this year, purchases from the public have amounted to US$1.1 billion, while sales to the public have amounted to US$1.7 billion, causing the Central Bank to put in US$675 million so far.