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Howai: Pace of T&T economic growth continues to pick up

larry howai lg

June 12, 2013 - The Trinidad & Tobago economy is showing stronger activity in the non-energy sector which has resulted in overall growth of 1.7% for the first quarter of 2013. This could lead to growth of up to 2 percent in the first half of 2013, once the improvement in the energy sector continues, Finance and the Economy Minister Larry Howai has said.
A statement from the Minister’s office quoted Howai as saying: “Based on the data which we have received from the Central Bank and the consultative mid-year reviews held with a broad group of stakeholders, and notwithstanding some unavoidable setbacks in the energy sector, the Trinidad & Tobago economy is likely to see growth of up to 2 percent for the first half of 2013.”

The Minister cited planned maintenance works and industrial action in the energy sector which affected petroleum refining and ammonia production.  In the petro-chemical sub-sector, there were, however, moderate increases of 3.1 percent in Urea production and 1.4 percent in methanol production.

“With the varying impact of these factors, growth of 0.5 percent was recorded for the energy sector as a whole in the quarter ended March 2013 which was an uptick from the 0.0% for the quarter ended December 2012.  Stronger growth was recorded in exploration and production which grew by 1.6 per cent; natural gas production which increased by 2.0 per cent, and liquefied natural gas (LNG) output which increased by 5.4 per cent,” Howai stated.

The Minister also disclosed positive news for the non-energy sector, saying that based on the indicators available, the Central Bank has provided flash estimates of growth for the non-energy sector of between 2.6 to 2.9 per cent in the first quarter of 2013.

“We are advised that the Finance, Insurance and Real Estate sector is anticipated to have grown by 6.0 per cent, as there are early signs of higher activity in the commercial bank and real estate sub-industries. Indicators also revealed increased activity in the construction sector (3.0 per cent). Local cement sales, which rebounded from industrial action at Trinidad Cement Limited (TCL) in the first half of 2012, increased by 51.7 per cent in the first quarter of 2013 (compared with the same period in 2012), while production of mined aggregates is estimated to have increased by 30.0 per cent.”
The Minister went on to say that “the sales of new motor vehicles increased by 13.3 per cent in the first quarter of 2013,” adding that strong signs of growth have also shown up in the manufacturing sector boosted by the rise in the production of cement.

“Given these positive signals, and based on the data we have, we have been advised that the non-energy sector is estimated to have grown between 2.6 and 2.9 per cent in the first quarter of 2013.  For the second quarter, preliminary evidence points to continued growth, more so in the Finance, Insurance and Real Estate and Construction sectors.  The flash estimates provided by the Central Bank also estimates that the non-energy sector will grow at a rate somewhere between 2.5 and 2.8 per cent in the second quarter.”

“We must also bear in mind that the overall growth in the economy, is occurring in an environment of well contained inflationary pressures and unemployment which recent data put at just over 5%, the lowest level in the region,” Howai stated.