“Road show” is a term Finance Minister Colm Imbert recently entered the national lexicon in a budgetary sense.
Imbert told a post-Cabinet press conference in mid-June that he was venturing on a “road show” to seek to borrow US $1 billion in bonds.
The media loved the term and used it ad nauseam, like a Christmas toy.
And when government spokesman Stuart Young revealed last week that the bonds were purchased within three and a half hours, no one pondered that vital pre-work had been undertaken by brokers.
But, amid the “road show” tattletale, Imbert seemingly forgot to tell the nation about two other important borrowings.
Republic Bank raised TT $2 billion in bonds and Caribbean Development Bank of Latin America tossed in a loan of US $300 million.
The public revelations were made by the respective institutions.
Altogether, the government quietly picked up TT $10.7 billion in almost one swoop.
This, according to reports, is some 21 times more than the sum borrowed in the comparative period by the previous administration.
The current public debt, according to the Central Bank, is a sizable TT $107.5 billion.
The borrowings raise some critical questions.
The financial pundits are discussing the debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio.
Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley a couple months ago put the ratio at 53 per cent.
More than that, Imbert should tell the country the total value of loans taken by the Rowley administration.
Are there other recent borrowings T&T has not been advised of?
Is the deficit for the current budget now filled?
Would the government now be able to honor outstanding debts to contractors and other service providers?
Would there be initiatives, such as infrastructure works, to spur the economy?
Is Imbert still aiming to balance the budget in this political term?
The Finance Minister has touted the quick sale of the international bonds as evidence of confidence in the economy.
But rating firm Moody’s has just ascribed a “negative outlook” to the economy.
The rating agency said it looks forward to lower fiscal deficits and a reversal of the deteriorating performance in the forthcoming years.
Concerns were raised about a sustained fall in energy prices and pressure on the currency exchange rate.
Imbert should respond to these financial queries when he returns from his “road show.”