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T&T banks are not hoarding US dollars, Scotiabank managing director Anya Schnoor told reporters at the Hyatt in Port-of-Spain after a T&T Manufacturers Association (TTMA) event. The TTMA complained in an April 28 statement that its members were not getting easy access to US currency. Central Bank Governor Jwala Rambarran has since said he did not understand why, because there was sufficient US dollar liquidity in the banking system.
“It’s a supply-and-demand issue. If you think about the T&T economy, a lot of the goods and services that we consume are all imported,” said Schnoor. “There is a supply-and-demand imbalance.” She said the commercial banks with the foreign exchange from their clients provide one part of the foreign-exchange supply in the country, and the Central Bank the other.
“If you think about how a commercial bank works, if we had the foreign exchange, we would sell. And it’s a simple equation, if you think about it. We’re in the business of selling foreign exchange, buying and selling foreign exchange—that’s how we make money, so it is a supply-and-demand imbalance, and I think that’s what the market needs to understand,” she said. Schnoor said it was important to look at where is the supply and demand is coming from.
“The fact that we consume a lot; we buy cars; most of our food is imported; everything that we use as consumers in our day-to-day lives, we import from overseas.” Asked how Scotia supplied its customers with US dollars, she explained: “We have a queue, and as soon as supply comes in from our clients, we’re able to queue customers.”
She said the topic of foreign exchange supply was “an ongoing conversation that the Bankers Association of T&T (BATT) is having with the Central Bank. We have a meeting later this month at which we hope to engage the Central Bank in further discussions.” Asked if the banks could be blamed for US dollar seekers’ woes, she said: “Definitely not. We want to supply our customers with foreign exchange.”
Asked if she thought there was hoarding by other banks in the market she said: “How would that help us? If you think about it, the way we make money is buying and selling. That’s what we do.”