SOME 50 exporters across 13 sectors have received about US$21 million to purchase raw materials and other inputs, in the facility established by the Government and executed by T&T’s EXIMBank to ease access to foreign exchange.
EXIMBank’s chief executive, Navin Dookeran, made this disclosure in responding to questions from Express Business on the facility that was rolled out by the Government in the 2018 fiscal year.
Dookeran said: “The EXIMBank Foreign Exchange Facility which we established in 2018 is now fully operational. Consistent with its mandate to promote non-energy exports, the EXIMBank is now able to fund its foreign exchange account, with US$100 million in the first instance, to meet the foreign exchange requirements of certain qualifying non-oil domestic manufacturers.”
He said the EXIMBank was initially allocated US$10 million in 2018, a further US$10 million in mid 2019 and now a further US$30 million in January 2020. The US$30 million was first disclosed by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley in an interview with CNC3’s Khamal Georges.
Dookeran noted that Rowley had stated during the interview that the “pilot project” was working. Rowley had said the Government had tried to make foreign exchange available and the “pilot project” was working.
“Applications which are now being processed are aligned with the export-driven plans of our domestic manufacturers, thereby consolidating investor confidence in our economy and at the same time contributing to the expansion and competitiveness of our non-energy base,” said Dookeran.
In announcing the facility, Finance Minister Colm Imbert told Parliament in his 2018 budget presentation: “One of the major challenges for exporters at this time is access to foreign exchange for raw materials and other essential inputs into manufacturing. To address this problem, we are establishing a facility to allow eligible exporters to access foreign exchange. In furtherance of this objective we will request the Central Bank to license the EXIMBank as a dealer in foreign exchange and give the EXIMBank the responsibility to allocate foreign exchange to exporters.
“In the first instance, the facility would be capitalised at US$100 million and will be available in fiscal 2018. The facility will fund the operations and import requirements of our local manufacturers and exporters. To qualify, at least 30 per cent of a business’s production must be for export.”
Responding to questions on whether there was a change in the execution of the facility to account for the difference between the minister’s announcement of US$100 million and the actual disbursement of US$21.8 million, Dookeran said: “It is my understanding that the EXIMBank has access to US$100 million, as a pilot project for manufacturers, but it is being approved in tranches.
“In mid 2019, we conducted empirical testing with the T&T Manufacturers Association to redesign the facility and the allocation amounts to better meet the needs of manufacturers. The EXIMBank-TTMA collaboration has resulted in a client-centric approach to the delivery.”