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Central Bank and BATT: Forex relief later this month
The Bankers’ Association of T&T (BATT) expects the foreign exchange market to be “adequately supplied” with US currency over the next two weeks. However, that assurance from BATT’s president Larry Nath and Central Bank Governor Jwala Rambarran’s claim of sufficient US dollars in the system did not satisfy members of the business community who subjected the two men to an intense grilling at a breakfast meeting hosted by the T&T Chamber of Commerce yesterday.
Problems with the supply of US currency have been linked to a change in the system for allocating foreign exchange where 90 per cent of the total US currency is being auctioned by 12 authorised dealers. Rambarran said the new allocation system has not affected the volumes in the market.
“June is typically a very liquid month for foreign exchange. Based on our projections, we are anticipating that demand would come in at around US $525 million in June and supply would be about US$475 million. The issue is that supply is likely to come in the last two weeks of June. June is supposed to be a month of comfort,” he said.
Rambarran, explaining how funds had been disbursed among the business community in the last two injections, said: “The data would suggest that with the last intervention of US$200 million, 58 per cent of the funds went to 231 companies in the retail and distribution sector and in the March intervention, 56 per cent of the funds went to 217 companies in the retail and distribution sector.
“In respect to the manufacturing sector, a quarter of the funds in the May intervention went to 79 companies. What you see, by and large, retail and distribution and the manufacturing sector, our interventions have been providing comfort and support to your needs.”
Nath later told reporters BATT expects the market to be “adequately supplied” over the next two weeks.
Addressing concerns raised by importers, Nath said: “The Governor has also said under other considerations, that the Central Bank will be reaching out for the queues. The queues represent unmet demand. “Now that information is being shared on a more frequent basis, we expect the Central Bank interventions will be able to address that unmet demand and clear up that queue. We expect that the importers who have unmet demands, and who are on a queue should be able to satisfied as well in June.”
Nath urged the public to be patient, saying distribution of US foreign currency is an ongoing problem.
“We can’t knock the Central Bank for trying a couple of changes to see if improvements can be made. At the end of the day, we believe that queue sharing and that queue information should alleviate the problem. Going forward as a country, we also see that our demand for foreign exchange is rising over time, and we need to have conversations as to how do we manage that in terms of our food import bill, in terms of online shopping and in terms of other things,” he said.