(Trinidad Express) Three weeks before Christmas, the Central Bank has announced that this country is officially now in a recession.

Central Bank Governor Jwala Rambarran, at a monetary policy forum at the Hyatt Hotel Port of Spain yesterday, said this is in light of continued declines in real Gross Domestic Product (GDP). He said this country suffered its fourth consecutive decline.

He said noticeable signs of the recession will start to set in next year, as businesses begin to cut back on investments, consumers hold back on spending and banks loans become fewer.

A recession, which is a sustained period of general economic decline, is defined as a decline in GDP for two or more consecutive quarters.

The Central Bank Governor provided some answers as to where the billions of dollars pumped into the financial system over the last three years ended up.

He labelled the Retail and Distribution sector as “the most voracious consumer” of foreign exchange, swallowing up almost US$4.5 billion in a three year period. He revealed that the major user of the currency in that sector was American warehouse chain, PriceSmart, which consumed US$507 million. The other top users in that sector were:

– Courts (US$198)

– Smith Robertson and Company (US$169million)

– A.S. Bryden (US$153 million)

– Massy Distribution (US$136 million)

Credit card payments accounted for US$1.8 billion over the past three year, Rambarran said.