Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) is today boasting the best credit rating in Caricom from international credit ratings agency Standard and Poors (S&P).
T&T’s Finance Minister Colm Imbert, who made the disclosure, trumpeted that this BBB credit rating is also better than many Latin American countries. However, he took issue with critics at a news conference this week, urging that they be more holistic in their examination of the facts.
Imbert reported the good news about T&T’s improved credit rating following an assessment of the credit ratings throughout the region, which he had requested. The T&T finance minister remarked that when the findings came back, he observed that the country had a higher credit rating than many countries in Latin America.
Based on the findings, Jamaica, he said, was quite significantly down the scale with a credit rating of B+ while Barbados has a B- rating. Imbert reported that Grenada, Venezuela, Suriname are in selective default.
The finance minister added that T&T’s credit rating is higher than Colombia, a significant emerging economy, and better than Paraguay, Brazil, Guatemala, Honduras, The Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Argentina.
“When you look at Trinidad and Tobago in the regional context, we have the best credit rating in Caricom, one of the best in the entire Caribbean. I’m not sure there is any Caribbean country better than us except Bermuda, if you consider Bermuda to be a Caribbean country — I don’t. Aruba, if you consider that to be a Caribbean country and within the whole Latin American region, — we are way ahead of most of the other countries in Latin America.
Imbert said he felt the improved credit rating was an achievement in the midst of the pandemic, stating that Trinidad and Tobago was able to affirm its investment-grade rating with S&P. The T&T finance minister stressed that given the economic challenges with COVID-19 this year, he was very pleased that the finance ministry team and external consultants were able to persuade S&P that the country’s investment-grade rating should be affirmed at BBB- .
“I thought that was an even greater achievement than in 2020,” Imbert said.
He added, “The outlook was revised from stable to negative but that’s understandable because nobody has a crystal ball and nobody knows how long COVID will continue for. And therefore I was not surprised. What I was pleased about is that we maintained our investment grade rating.”
Imbert advised that S&P made some positive observations while forecasting that the decline in energy production would be reversed over the next two years and that the economy would to return to growth by next year.
He said the Government’s acquisition of vaccines played a significant role in the S&P rating of T&T, as they thoroughly investigated the country’s potential to recover from the pandemic. The T&T finance minister concluded that,“S&P saw our reserve position to be quite good, our Heritage Fund to be in good shape.”