Colm Imbert

(flashback)‘above board’: Finance Minister Colm Imbert at a news conference on Tuesday at his office in the Eric Williams Financial Complex in Port of Spain.

CARACAS-based Development Bank of Latin America, also known as CAF, yesterday confirmed that the hemispheric lending institution has approved a US$50 million loan to T&T to mitigate the COVID-19 health crisis in T&T.

The loan was first mentioned by Finance Minister Colm Imbert at a news conference last week, during which he said he expected to tap about US$450 million in loans from various international institutions.

In a statement yesterday, CAF said the US$50 million loan aims to strengthen T&T’s capacity to respond to and prevent the crisis caused by COVID-19, through direct financial resources and the recognition of expenses and investments aimed at reducing risk or mitigating the impact of the pandemic in the health of the population.

In addition to the loan, CAF said, it made a US$400,000 donation to T&T on April 3 to bolster its fight against the spread of the coronavirus.

CAF said the monies approved so far will be complemented by further anti-cyclical support to mitigate the effects of the epidemic on economic activity. Anti-cyclical policy refers to strategy by governments to increase spending during economic downturns and decrease spending during booms.

“These emergency funds will back the Government of Trinidad and Tobago in its efforts to fight Covid-19 from different fronts, from improving health services to preserving the country´s economic resilience,” said Luis Carranza, CEO of CAF.

To cope with the effects of the pandemic in Latin America, early in March 2020 CAF offered its member countries an emergency regional credit line of USD$50 million per country for health emergency investments, and in April 2020 approved a regional anti-cyclic facility of US$2.5 million.

In the last four years, CAF has become the financial agency the T&T Government goes to when it needs low-interest loans that are disbursed quickly.

On March 3, CAF announced that it had approved a US$200 million loan to T&T to support the management, planning and investment of the country’s tourism infrastructure through better institutional and regulatory frameworks.

Those funds are to be managed by the Ministry of Finance and will support different initiatives such as the upgrade of the National Tourism Policy; the strategic plan for the Trinidad and Tobago’s Airports Authority; the development of a National Maritime Policy and Strategy; the analysis to develop ports and logistics hub in the country, specifically in Port of Spain; and the development and integration of the Port Community System (PCS) in the ports’ logistic chain.

In addition, the tourism-sector loan includes actions to improve other tourism infrastructure linked to beaches, airports, connectivity between islands and access to sectors that are attractive to visitors.

“We are working closely with the government of Trinidad and Tobago to support the implementation of its development plan that promotes the diversification of the country’s economy through better levels of productivity, better infrastructure, and the improvement of processes and regulatory frameworks to optimise the maritime and air logistics of the country, ” said Carranza, in the March 3, news release.

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