PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago, December 29, (CMC) – The Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (CBTT) says that domestic growth momentum appeared to have slackened in the third quarter of 2018, while inflation remained very low.
“Domestically, after a positive outturn for the first half of 2018, a number of factors have contributed to declines in production indicators in the energy sector, in the third quarter,” the CBTT said, in its Monetary Police Announcement for December, released yesterday.
It revealed that the year-on year increase in natural gas production waned, as the base effect of the coming on-stream of the Juniper natural gas platform, in August 2017, ended, and several natural gas facilities suspended operations for maintenance, within the three month period.
It said crude oil production continued to slip, in the context of maturing of the fields, and methanol output was negatively affected by repair work to the plants.
“Preliminary indicators, used by the Central Bank to measure non-energy economic activity, particularly construction and distribution, were also lower in the third quarter of 2018, relative to the same period in 2017,” the CBTT noted.
But it noted that inflation remained low, at one percent, in November 2018, with food prices contracting and core inflation holding steady.
The Central Bank said that the floods of late October and early November resulted in price increases of certain fresh vegetables, but these were offset by lower prices for dried vegetables, fruits and meat.
It said that the one dollar increase in the price of a litre of super gasoline, in October 2018, led to only a small rise in general transportation costs, to date.
“Throughout 2018, domestic inflationary impulses have been very muted, in the context of sluggish demand,” the CBTT added.
It said that private sector credit continued to grow at a steady pace, with lending to consumers reaching 7.1 percent in October 2018.
“However, lending to businesses contracted by 1.3 percent in October, reversing its growth trend since the start of the year. Available information, to September 2018, show a slight narrowing in commercial bank interest spreads, since the mid-year increase in the Central Bank’s repo rate,” the CBTT added.