Oropouche West MP, Dave Tancoo described as ‘false,” the statement by Finance Minister Colm Imbert, that this country’s Heritage and Stabilisation Fund has more money in it today than it did before the PNM came into power.
However, Tancoo said the money in the HSF today is less than it was in 2017, 2018 and 2019
Tancoo said “The Minister of Finance put several comments in the public domain which warrant clarification.
“CLAIM 1: Some persons or entities had said that Heritage and Stabilisation Fund had been “depleted, all the money is gone, there is nothing left, and the country going bankrupt and all that kind of thing.” According to Imbert this was a repeated falsity that had somehow gotten widespread coverage.”
But according to Tancoo: “A review of online media reports, Hansard and footage could find no example of anyone saying that the HSF had been depleted, except Imbert.”
The MP said Imbert also claimed: “There was more money in the HSF now than when the PNM won election.”
However, Tancoo said “To put the facts into perspective, in the five years under the Kamla Persad Bissessar administration, the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund grew by over 56 percent. Over the last five years under Imbert, the HSF has actually grown by 1.3 percent and this is despite Imbert’s interference.
He said “Ironically, the money in the HSF today is less than it was in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
The value of the portfolio in September 2010 was US$3.621 billion. During the five years between 2010 and 2015, the fund grew by over US$2 billion on the basis of investment returns and continuous deposits by the Persad Bissessar administration into the Fund.”
“By September 2015, the HSF was worth US$ 5.655 billion. It should be noted that since assuming office in 2015, the PNM has placed not one cent into the HSF. Thankfully, however, the investments that had been made previously and managed by international agencies hired long before Imbert became Finance Minister, continued to generate income so that the fund continues to grow,” he added.
Tancoo said “In every successive year since inception, the HSF has generated an income which continuously added to the value of the Fund. For example, in 2016, the HSF generated US$305 million in interest and investment returns which means that the value of the HSF should have continued to grow.”
“In total, from 2015 to 2020, even with the Minister’s persistent withdrawals, the HSF generated over US$2 billion in income. Obviously then, without any intervention by this Minister of Finance, the Fund would have stood today in excess of US$7.7 billion. Instead, because of Imbert’s withdrawal of over US$1.6 billion since 2015, the HSF has taken almost 6 years to recover to its 2015 levels. The Fund has continued to survive and grow, DESPITE the interference of Imbert.”
Tancoo said “The Opposition’s concerns remain that the Minister has persistently failed and or refused to adequately account for the money extracted from the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund. The Opposition will continue to challenge the Government to account to the population for its expenditure. It is our duty. It is his duty to respond and to respond truthfully.