Imbert defends bond interest rate

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The 4.5 percent interest rate on the recent US currency $1 billion loan was the best the government could have negotiated, Acting Prime Minister Colm Imbert has said.

Imbert made the statement on Thursday in response to a question in the midst of queries in financial circles about the interest rate.

Several financial analysts have claimed that the government was able to secure the bond issue because of the 4.5 percent interest rate.

The interest rate, the analysts said, was attractive to investors.

But Imbert stated that offers from prospective investors “would have fallen off the table” if the government had insisted on a lower interest rate.

He said that countries like Trinidad and Tobago – with oil-dependent economies – usually attract interest rates of between four and five percent.

He added that the initial offer was 4.625 percent, but that his negotiating team was able to bargain for a lower rate.

There was “strong” interest in the bond issue, Imbert said.

Told about the criticism about the interest rate, he responded: “That is easy to say; you had to be there.”

He said that bond negotiations were “complicated, fluid and dynamic.”

He added: “We are happy about the interest rate.”

He revealed plans for T&T currency denominated bond issue since, he stated, there are limited opportunities for local investors.

Local investors were allowed US $115 million of the US $1 billion bonds.

Imbert said his recent “road show” was grueling, with 32 presentations being made to interested investors.

He said his team had to explain plans for the economy in light of the collapse of energy prices.

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