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RBC and Republic Bank on Independence Square, Port-of-Spain.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley is assuring that the country’s banking sector is sound, saying it represents one of the main strengths of T&T.

Concerns were raised by Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar about a report by the IMF which said the country’s banks were at risk.

Persad-Bissessar also said the IMF’s report also raised several red flags and called on the Government to answer.

During a press conference yesterday Rowley described Persad-Bissessar’s statements as reckless as it hits at the core of citizens and threatens the confidence of the local banking system.

“One of our main strengths is our banking system.

“When we were called to respond to COVID one of the first things we did was to call the banking sector to duty,” Rowley said, noting that the country’s banking sector also has external clientèle.

Finance Minister Colm Imbert who also spoke said the report was not a “secret backroom report.”

He said since 2017 his team has been in discussions with the IMF to conduct a financial sector stability assessment.

Imbert said the IMF agreed to do so in 2019 following which a scoping mission was done in June of that year, followed by two main missions.

The finance minister said the findings of the missions were then reported to him and were also reviewed.

Imbert said he also asked the Central Bank to examine the findings. He noted the report was also posted on the Central Bank’s website.

Imbert said among the findings of the report was that the country’s has a sound financial system and well capitalised.

“However, there are some vulnerabilities which are the financial problems caused by COVID,” Imbert said, noting that these are challenges which every other country has in the world.

Imbert said the IMF also gave advise which included looking at exposure and credit unions in the report.

He however did not deal with two major concerns of the report that of rising consumer debt and the challenge to repay that debt and also the issue of investment funds with guaranteed returns. The Unit Trust is one of the largest mutual funds in the Caribbean with guarantee returns.