(Trinidad Guardian) Citizens have racked up US$1.205 billion in credit card transactions for 2018 which is now engaging the attention of the Ministry of Finance.
This was revealed yesterday by Finance Minister Colm Imbert in response to a query from Opposition MP Dr Fuad Khan about the amount US currency used for credit card payments last year.
Imbert said compared to the previous years, credit card transactions were far less.
In 2010, the credit card transactions figure was US$343 million compared to US$766 million in 2015.
In a follow-up question, Khan asked Imbert why the public was faced with a shortage of foreign exchange to do day-to-day transactions.
Imbert said Khan’s question was speculative and asked him to rephrase.
Caroni East MP Dr Tim Gopeesingh intervened and asked Imbert what had led to the credit card payments now “engaging the Ministry of Finance in our regular meetings with the Central Bank.”
Imbert said the initial response from was that more purchases are being made online compared with traditional retail transactions.
In a follow-up question, Gopeesingh asked Imbert if this was due to the difficulties being experienced by local businesses in obtaining foreign exchange.
Imbert refused to speculate, stating it was a complex matter.
“There is absolutely no doubt that there is a shift in cultural patterns in Trinidad and Tobago and a shift to online purchases which is happening all over the world,” he said.
As to the total amount of US currency injected into the local banks and financial institutions last year, Imbert said the Central Bank sold US$1.5 billion to authorised dealers.
He said net currency assets in commercials banks at the end of the third quarter of 2018 stood at US$2.734 billion.