Finance Minister Larry Howai is satisfied with the actions being taken by the Central Bank to deal with the supply for foreign currency on the local market."I do not expect any issues in respect of this matter and I am satisfied that the Central Bank has an improved arrangement in place which will minimise the problems experienced last year.
"Foreign exchange reserves are equivalent to 12 months of import cover, much higher than in many countries. There should be no problem with meeting demand during the holiday period," he told the T&T Guardian yesterday."My understanding is that the banks continue to have sufficient foreign exchange to meet normal business requirements although with a short lag."
However, Hugh Howard, president of the American Chamber of Commerce of T&T (AmchamTT) said businesses are still complaining about the shortage of US currency."Businesses are still complaining. I really do not know what is taking place. After a while people stop complaining when they get no relief. While we have not heard anything further I cannot say that the situation has been resolved," he said.
"I expect that some action will be taken. Elections will be soon so I do not think the Government will want to go into an election with businesses complaining about shortages in currency."Daphne Bartlett, president of the San Fernando Business Chamber said she has been getting fewer complaints about the US currency shortage.
"The banks allow people to open US accounts and there is the option of transferring money from your TT dollar account to the US one. This means that when a business owner needs the money, it is there in the US account. Apparently people have been making use of that facility in the bank so the situation is better," she said.
Barlett said there is also the possibility of a drop in locals traveling during the peak August holiday season, so there would be a less demand for foreign currency."The economy is not good and Trinidadians tend to hold on to their money during these times. It could just be the case that a lot of people go to Tobago rather than to a foreign country just to try to save their money," she said.
In February 2014, Finance Minister Larry Howai promised to take steps to solve the shortage of US dollars in the local market.At that time he assured: "There are adequate reserves of close to US$10 billion and another US$5 billion in the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund."
In July 2014, just before the sharp fall in international energy prices, University of the West Indies (UWI) economist Dr Roger Hosein gave a brief history of Central Bank's foreign currency injections and stated that in January to May 2013 the Central Bank injected US$490 million to meet excess demand by the public.
Hosein said for 2013, the annual intervention by the bank turned out to be US$1,315 million. For the same period (January–May) in 2014, the Central Bank injected US$610 million into the financial system, which if linearly scaled gives an annual figure of US$1,464 million which is actually similar to the 2013 figure and lower than the injections made by the Central Bank in the years 2009 to 2012.
In December 2014, Central Bank Governor Jwala Rambaran accused some local businesses of hoarding in foreign currency accounts and denied there was a shortage of US dollars.