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Manning: $400m in currency made available to importers during pandemic – Trinidad and Tobago Newsday


Minister in the Ministry of Finance Brian Manning. –

Finance Minister Brian Manning said as of May 31, US$400 million in foreign currency (forex) had been made available to established importers to bring in essential supplies.

He was speaking at the American Chamber of Commerce TTs (Amcham TTs) Annual General Meeting at the Hilton, Port of Spain on Wednesday.

“At the start of the pandemic, strict containment measures had to be implemented to curb the spread of the virus while fiscal support, in the form of short-term grants and cash transfers, was provided to help groups the most vulnerable.

Manning said the government had provided support to enable business continuity and access to capital through a number of programs, including the special foreign exchange import window for established importers.

He also said the loan guarantee program was previously offered in 2020 to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with initial support of $300 million.

“In this initial program, the total value of the loans obtained was $37.3 million.

“At the request of the SME sector, a phase two of the program was finalized in September 2021 for a value of $196.0 million…As of May 30, 2022, 387 loans have been disbursed under phase II for a total value of $80.1 million. ”

A $30 million business relief grant facility, Manning said, was administered by the National Entrepreneurial Development Company (Nedco) and made available to small and micro businesses with annual revenues of less than $1 million. of dollars. The facility was extended by the government on March 31.

“All these measures, coupled with the progress made in vaccinating the population, have contributed to the normalization of activity by allowing the reopening of the economy.”

Manning said the government aims to transform the economy dependent on oil and gas to focus on generating revenue and foreign exchange from a wider range of sectors.

He said initiatives under the ministries of finance, trade and industry are aimed at supporting the diversification of the economy.

“In 2018, the Ministry of Finance introduced the Eximbank Manufacturing Forex Facility at the request of the TT Manufacturers Association to provide better access to foreign exchange for manufacturers engaged in export business, and in 2021 the The facility has been expanded to include all manufacturers companies with an export plan.

He said as of May 31, $309 million worth of currency had been sold to 126 manufacturers, 83% of which fell into the SME category.

Manning said the Department of Commerce has also set up programs such as the Grant Fund Facility, administered by ExportTT, through which SMEs involved in the production of high value-added products and services can access grants ranging from up to $250,000 to fund new capital needs and expenses.

Manning highlighted several other initiatives focused on digital transformation. He said the Ministry of Digital Transformation has implemented initiatives such as e-ID – a government owned, operated and issued unique digital identifier for each person.

“The TT government… has positioned the economy for the strong rebound we are currently experiencing.

“The business community and the population at large can therefore be assured of a positive outlook for the prospects of our economy.”

AmchamTT Chairman Toni Sirju-Ramnarine also said the effect of the ongoing pandemic, climate change and recent geopolitical tensions continues to disrupt business.

“In this environment, businesses have been forced to make many difficult decisions to stay alive and afloat. But amid these tumultuous times, many promising opportunities have also presented themselves.

Sirju-Ramnarine said AmchamTT will hold its fourth edition of the Tech Hub Islands Summit from July 6-8 at the Hyatt Regency, Port of Spain, with speakers including the Head of Global Technology Team for Infrastructure Modernization at Google Cloud David White.

She said it was imperative to invest in technology to move businesses forward.

“We have seen how technology can transform the way companies produce and sell their goods and services.

“We know it has the potential to open up new markets and new business models, which will result in higher levels of productivity, production and profits to grow the economy. What we need more now are structural changes to promote innovation.

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