Over 1 million cars on T&T's roads - positive economy says Imbert

There are over one million cars on the roads of Trinidad and Tobago and that's increasing by over 2,000 every single month.

This was among the revelations of Finance Minister Colm Imbert, as he sought to show how the economy of Trinidad and Tobago has been progressing.

"Vehicle sales continue to charge along at an average rate of over 25,000 new registrations per year, with the total number of vehicles now well over the one million mark," Minister Imbert said.

The population of Trinidad and Tobago is 1.3 million.

He told the House of Representatives that the data comes from the websites of the Central Bank and added that "with all of these positive developments over the last three and a half years, the dogged persistence and moaning and groaning of the cynics is baffling".

He said the banking system is another indication of how well the economy is doing.

Minister Imbert said: "In stark contrast to the mantra of doom and gloom, our local banks are enjoying unprecedented growth in income and profits. Republic Bank, for example, has increased its annual profits after tax from $1.17 billion in 2015 to $1.32 billion in 2018, an increase of 13%, with its total assets moving from $66 billion to $70 billion. Not to be left behind, First Citizens Bank has increased its profits after tax from $630 million in 2015 to $674 million in 2018, an increase of 7%. FCB’s total assets also increased from $37.5 billion to $42 billion over the period."

As he presented the 2019 Mid-Year Budget Review, he said consumer credit grew from $51 billion in December 2015 to $58 billion in December 2018, an increase of $7 billion or 14% over the period.

"If we look at prices year on year, retail prices have increased by only 0.8% between March 2018 and March 2019, while food inflation has been contained at just 2% year on year. These are some of the lowest inflation rates for Trinidad and Tobago for decades, a direct result of our fiscal and monetary policy," he said.

He continued: "Another indicator, life insurance, reveals that the total life insurance contracts in Trinidad and Tobago have grown from $3.8 billion in 2015 to $4.4 billion in 2018. Other indicators of the health of our insurance industry, such as total 26 assets, annuities, deposits, mutual funds, all show significant growth over the last 3 years."

The minister said that the total money supply in circulation in Trinidad and Tobago has also increased from $85 billion to $89 billion over the last 3 years and that mortgage lending for home ownership has increased significantly since 2015. 

 - Sampson Nanton

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