Trinidad Finance Minister probes US$1.2b in credit card transactions

Minister of Finance Colm Imbert responds to an Opposition question during yesterday’s sitting of Parliament.

(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.

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