The government will amend legislation to allow it to dip into the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund (HSF) in order to offset some of the economic challenges the country will inevitably face as it seeks to mitigate and protect against the coronavirus disease, covid19.
“There are dark clouds with us and of course, if this is not a rainy day I don’t know what is because we are threatened in a very serious way and how we use the resources of this fund will be a matter,” the Prime Minister said at a media briefing at the Diplomatic Centre Monday following an emergency Cabinet meeting to discuss the country’s response to covid19. TT has four confirmed cases, all of them imported (caught outside of the country). Often called the country’s rainy day savings, the HSF is TT’s sovereign wealth fund, started in 2007, as a means of saving some of the country’s profits from hydrocarbon revenue. The fund’s current value is just over US$6 billion, although its investments were hit hard as its portfolio reeled from tumbling US and global equity markets.
The country has strengths and it has weaknesses, Dr Rowley said, and TT cannot confront this crisis from the standpoint of its weaknesses. “We have to confront it from the standpoint of our strengths whatever they might be… the HSF is one of those strengths.”
Accessing this strength, though, will require a change in the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund Act, which states that the fund can only be accessed once per year, in October, at the start of the financial year.