Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 16th 2016 Contents A19
JUNE 16, 2016
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Former Central Bank Governor
Ewart Williams is surprised at the
public debate that continues to rage
over Government s decision to
make a $2.5 billion drawdown from
the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund
In response to questions from
reporters at the start of a two-day
International Outsourcing Summit
hosted by the T&T International
Financial Centre (IFC) at the Hilton
Trinidad and Conference Centre yes-
terday, Williams expressed surprise
at "the intensity of the debate" not-
ing that the HSF was created in 2007
specifically for "exigencies like this,
as well as to save funds for future
Williams, who was a member of
the committee responsible for setting
up the fund, explained that nine
years ago Government and the wider
population wanted to ensure that
money was set aside for future gen-
erations even as there was an urgent
need to develop the national infra-
structure. He said they looked for a
way "of bridging the two things"
and had noted the advantages and
disadvantages of combining the two
to create one fund.
Williams said one disadvantage
of the Stabilisation Fund being left
by itself was that it carried a "par-
ticular investment horizon" in that
the larger the fund, the smaller the
expected rate of return needed to
invest in short term opportunities.
One advantage of a Heritage Fund
was that it was a long term horizon
allowing the state to venture into
equities and government securities,
he explained, and the decision to
combine the two funds was "really
a compromise solution."
Commenting on the drawdown,
Williams said: "I thought we always
expected to draw the fund down in
order to maintain government
expenditures or cushion the impact
"If you didn t draw down the
fund, you would have to have adjust-
ment measures for the equivalent
of $2.5 billion immediately."
He said in its medium-term
review Government had explained
that they would spread the adjust-
ment over five years.
"That s why you build up buffers
so you don t do entire adjustment
immediately," he said, adding: "I
thought that would have been an
advantage but clearly I don t under-
stand the politics as well as you do."
Foreign investors welcome
Williams said there was nothing
wrong with Government s attempts
to attract direct foreign investments
to T&T. He applauded the IFC s
efforts to market business process
outsourcing (BPO) as a viable indus-
try with the potential to earn over
$1 billion over the next five year.
In his welcome address at the
Summit, the former Central Bank
Governor said a Chinese state-
owned company had been in dis-
cussions with the previous govern-
ment to construct a tower, a
convention centre and five-star hotel.
"That was something that was in
the works for the past two or three
years," he said.
"I think it has now come to the
stage of a formal proposal to the
government and I think it was men-
tioned in the mid-term review."
IFC CEO Varun Maharaj said he
was confident of the agency s ability
to contribute positively to the econ-
"I think we can because we have
a track record, albeit very short, but
we have been able to create in this
sector close to 1,000 jobs and that s
years," he said.
Maharaj said foreign investors
would complement local efforts and
nationals would benefit from an
injection of capital as well as
advanced technological training and
Shirley Gayle Sinclair, procure-
ment specialist at the Inter Amer-
ican Development Bank s (IDB)
T&T office says the country has
come a long way in setting proper
procurement standards aligned to
its Public Procurement Act.
"We are optimistic, based on what
we have seen, that the law will make
its way through the different levels
of Parliament and will be proclaimed.
That is a major step in reforming
public procurement in the country.
"Certainly for the projects
financed by the IDB, our specific
policies govern procurement and
the IDB maintains monitoring and
supervisory roles in all the projects
and procurement processes," she told
the T&T Guardian yesterday.
The IDB is partnering with the
T&T Manufacturers Association
(TTMA) for a procurement fair at
next month s Trade and Investment
Convention (TIC). Sinclair said this
will bring together the business com-
munity, manufacturers of goods,
consulting firms and individuals.
She added that the IDB is taking
a "trade fair approach" to its pro-
curement seminar this year.
"As you know the Government
buys a whole myriad of goods and
services. We want to bring together
suppliers of goods and services and
put them in a place where they can
interact with the buyers in our project
executing agencies. The suppliers
will have the opportunity to show-
case their offerings. The executing
agencies will have the opportunity
to meet new suppliers and to show-
case their projects," she said.
Sinclair said the IDB has done this
before but their procurement booth
at the TIC is a new format.
"In the past we have had our
Doing Business with the IDB Sem-
inar. That was a regular session and
the general business community,
trade missions in embassies, were
invited. We brought them in and
showed them IDB s policies, we
showed what tools we had and pro-
curement policies. We also showed
them the do s and don t of tendering
in the IDB," she said.
She said the TTMA has given the
IDB tips on what companies what
would want to learn at their booth.
"They said it would be useful to
give presentations on how companies
could give proposals, how to work
with the standardised IDB document.
The feedback they have is some peo-
ple are not acquainted with the
process," she said, adding thay the
seminar will help in building public
awareness of the role of transparen-
"For the IDB and in best practices
for procurement, this seminar will
espouse transparency, equity, fair
treatment for all involved. These are
clear tenets for all IDB s procurement.
This is the standard, we encourage
all the governments that we finance,
we encourage them to reflect," she
Oil prices fell for a fifth straight day
yesterday in the commodity s longest
losing stretch since February. The latest
declines were sparked by worries that
Britain might leave the European Union
while the US Federal Reserve signalled
plans for two U.S. rate hikes this year
despite slower growth expectations.
West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude
oil fell 48 cents to close at US$48.01 a
barrel in New York. The price has fallen
6.3 per cent over the last five days. Brent
crude, used to price international oils,
fell 86 cents to close at US$48.97 a barrel
in London. In other energy commodities,
natural gas fell 1 cent to US$2.595 per
1,000 cubic feet.
Oil prices have fallen without a break
since June 8, for a total loss of about 7
per cent. Just a week ago, Brent hit 2016
highs of nearly US$53 a barrel and WTI
reached toward US$52 after a rash of
supply disruptions, mostly out of Nigeria
Fifth day of declines for oil prices
HSF drawdown debate
Former Central Bank Governor surprised at intensity
NGC chairman Jerry Brooks, second from right, speaks to investors at the T&T Financial Centre's inaugural International Outsourcing Summit at the
Trinidad Hilton and Conference Centre yesterday. Also on stage are, from left, managing director of RBC Royal Bank (T&T) Darryl White, First Citizens
Group CEO Karen Darbasie and President , T&T Manufacturers Association president Dr Rolph Balgobin. PHOTO: MARCUS GONZALES
IDB official hails procurement progress
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