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‘Colm must explain HSF withdrawal’

Published: 
Sunday, March 19, 2017

Minister Colm Imbert owes a duty to the population to say what he intends to do with the $ 1.7 billion (TT) that was removed from the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund (HSF).

This is the view of former energy minister Kevin Ramnarine in a brief statement yesterday.

Yesterday, the Ministry of Finance announced that Government was making its second drawdown in less than a year from the HSF.

The ministry assured that the financial standing of the fund is sound, as in the ten months since money was first withdrawn, the fund had been able to recover to close to its original value.

Ramnarine said while the release indicated the money would be used to support the Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP), there was no explanation of what specific projects would be supported.

“Given that drawing down form the HSF is tantamount to decapitalising the country, the Minister of Finance should say what new capital stock would be created using this TT $1.7 billion.”

In an interview yesterday evening, former trade minister Vasant Bharath expressed concern over the decision to draw down from the fund.

“The HSF is a last resort as far as any country is concerned. It was set up to set aside funds for future generations. You would have to exhaust all other possibilities before you dip into the fund,” Bharath said in an interview.

Bharath said drawing money out of the fund sent a signal to the investing international community that T&T was having problems.

“I don’t believe it is the proper thing to have done. They have not demonstrated to the population that they have a plan to attract local and foreign investment or to lend a level of confidence to the investing community.”

Bharath said drawing down from the fund was an “easy thing to do”.