"The new government has undertaken fiscal adjustments intended to bring the economy back into balance. It introduced new revenue measures with the FY 2015/16 budget, and made further adjustment measures mid-year when it became clear that even the seemingly conservative energy price assumptions in the budget were overoptimistic, due to the subsequent continued decline in energy prices.
"The Central Bank began tightening monetary policy to mitigate capital outflows beginning in late 2014, before pausing in January 2016. Although the currency has been allowed to depreciate modestly against the U.S. dollar, external balance models suggest the currency remains substantially overvalued (although the degree of overvaluation is subject to uncertainty due to historical shortcomings in domestic data), while foreign exchange shortages persist. Banks remain strong, while there has been some progress on structural reforms, notably with respect to a significant start on efforts to remedy statistical shortcomings.
Executive Board of the IMF noted that "the recent sharp decline in energy prices is posing major challenges to Trinidad and Tobago’s economy. Directors welcomed the efforts taken by the new government and encouraged further policy actions, including additional fiscal consolidation and structural reforms, to preserve macroeconomic stability, diversify the economy, and enhance medium-term growth prospects.
"Directors concurred that a strong medium-term fiscal plan is needed to re-establish a sustainable fiscal path and ensure debt sustainability. They commended the authorities for the important steps taken thus far and encouraged them to put in place a comprehensive fiscal framework to guide their multi-year adjustment efforts. Directors agreed that priority should be given to broadening the revenue base with a comprehensive VAT reform, improving tax administration, phasing out fuel subsidies, while improving targeted social protection. In this context, they also welcomed the authorities’ intention to pursue a comprehensive expenditure review.
"Directors supported the current pause in monetary policy tightening given the challenges to growth. They noted that while the immediate policy priority is to focus on maintaining external balance, addressing foreign exchange shortages on current transactions would be important. Directors noted that a well-communicated move to greater exchange rate flexibility, as part of a comprehensive demand-management package, would help strengthen the foreign exchange market and support the needed macroeconomic adjustment. Some Directors highlighted the importance of mitigating volatility in the foreign exchange market, and recommended a careful adjustment strategy.