Just over one week has passed, in January 2021, and T&t is facing a plethora of issues, which forebode much darker days ahead.
Effective January 17, 2021, the Shipping Association of T&T has stated that four shipping companies, which represent over 90 per cent of the goods coming into the country, will require importers to pay freight charges in US dollars. The warning has been given that this will lead to increased prices. Problems converting TT dollars to US dollars were the reason.
The comment from the Shipping Association that the TT$ is like “monopoly money” had me scrambling, to search the files of my late uncle. On March 7, 1999, he was shown the “TT dollar in crisis” and it was “being used as ordinary toilet paper”. Now the wording is not exact—“monopoly money” versus “toilet paper” but the signs are there.
With the impending liberalisation of gas prices at the pump, oil prices have begun to rise, with an agreed cutback on oil production, by the key oil producing countries.
Currently, West Texas Intermediate oil is above US$52 and Brent Crude oil is above US$56.
This means that come February 2021, there will be an increase in the fuel price. There is no need to state what the impact will be, for life in T&T.
The Association of Trinidad and Tobago Insurance Companies (ATTIC) has spoken about international re-insurers being unhappy, with low property premium rates in T&T. Foreign exchange continues to be an issue, for payments to the reinsurers. We can look forward to significantly increased premiums this year.
The Government has also got into the act by telling companies that they must now pay for the overtime worked by customs officers, to clear goods. This would add thousands of dollars to the cost of doing business and would be passed on to consumers. The American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) has already spoken out on this matter, and warned that prices on everything, imported into T&T, will be increased substantially.
Covid-19 has not helped but, it is clear that the policies of the Government will make life extremely difficult.
Buckle up T&T, it is going to be a very, very rough year.
Linus F Didier