Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 8th 2015 Contents A19
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For the first time since May 2009
Brent crude oil fell below US$50 a barrel
yesterday. Benchmark Brent crude
futures rose ten cents to US$51.20 after
falling as low as US$49.66 in trading.
West Texas Intermediate was up 57
cents to US$48.50 a barrel, having fallen
to US$46.83, the lowest since April
The slide in oil prices has increased
fears of deflation, which has further
clouded the demand outlook following a
series of weak economic data.
The low prices are a result of high
output clashing with sluggish demand,
especially in Europe, which is still
struggling with its debt crisis, and in
Asia, where China's growth is slowing
and Japan is battling recession.
On the demand side, output from
North American shale producers remains
high, although drilling is slowing. Opec
has resisted calls to cut production in
support of prices and is trying to defend
its market share through offering low
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-
Bissessar is expected to announced
measures to be taken by Government in
response to the falling oil prices in an
address to the nation today.
The unavailability of US currency has
reached a "very critical" stage with several
businesses in Central facing an impending
shut down, members of the community are
Businesses owe their foreign suppliers mil-
lions in US dollars and, as a result, cannot get
Some fear falling oil prices will further com-
pound the situation, affecting the payment
of taxes by energy companies, which is nor-
mally done in US dollars.
"No products, no business," president of
the Couva/Pt Lisas Chamber of Commerce
Liaquat Ali told the T&T Guardian yesterday.
He said some chamber members owe their
suppliers from as far back as July last year.
The Chase Village-based SFM Ltd, which
sells imported foods like salted fish and smoked
herring, urgently needs US$1/4 million to pay
"We are facing a shutdown because of a
stocks out situation," Farooz Mohammed, from
SFM S finance department said.
SFM imports their products from Canada,
the US and China, because T&T s fishing
industry is unable to handle local demand.
Mohammed said their bankers, RBC, keeps
telling them they simply don t have US dol-
He said the company has been dealing with
their suppliers for ten years and gets goods
"But the situation has gotten out of hand
because since July last year we have not been
able to pay them," he said.
Ali, who sells canned foods, said he has
been complaining since early last year about
the unavailability of US dollars but the situation
is now "very critical."
"The situation has gotten progressively bad."
Ali said he has written his bankers requesting
a letter stating they don t have US dollars.
"I have to supply my suppliers with a reason
for not getting US money."
He said when businesses do not pay sup-
pliers on time they lose out on discounts.
The Central Bank said US dollars are scarce
because people are buying them out and
Ali said the Central business community is
calling on the banks to identify those who got
US money from them.
"The real issue at hand is whether these
banks are issuing the money to the wrong
people. Businesses must submit to the banks
copies of invoices to be paid.
"We now ask then who is receiving the
money? Is it that the banks are allocating the
money to their friends and families? Our mem-
bers are facing a crisis. We are pleading with
the authorities to investigate this issue."
President of the Chaguanas Chamber of
Commerce Richie Sookhai said while he has
not heard reports of impending business shut
downs in the Chaguanas area, members con-
tinue to feel the pinch of the unavailability of
US dollars. He said some are concerned that
falling oil prices will further compound the
"Oil companies pay taxes in US dollars three
times for the year, so there was always a flow
of US dollars into the system," he said.
Sookhai said businesses can pay suppliers
with their credit cards but have to pay a three
per cent charge with the payment. See Page
Oil prices increase slightly after further slide
Currency crisis threatens Central businesses
Store manager of Massy Stores, El
Dorado, Christine James, second from
right, presents a certificate for the top
prize of a Nissan Versa to Rohan Sookoo,
during a prize distribution function held
at Massy Stores Head Office in Port-of-
Spain. Looking on are silver winners
Phillip Fortune, right, and Indar Boodram,
second from left, along with assistant
store manager, Trincity, Michelle Charran.
PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
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