Trinidad and Tobago’s foreign currency crunch is threatening to drive some used car dealers out of business.

According to President of the T&T Automotive Dealers Association, Visham Babwah, operators have been forced to put the brakes on new car purchases because they are not getting enough of the foreign exchange they need.

“The situation for the industry is grim. We are only receiving between 10 per cent and 15 per cent of the amount that we need for our businesses to be sustained,” Babwah told the Trinidad Guardian newspaper.

He disclosed that while banks have allowed dealers to use their credit cards to make a purchase, they are being hindered by the low credit limit.

“The bank told us we could use our credit cards, which have very small limits, which is around US$10,000. In the scheme of purchasing cars for someone’s business, that is very small,” he said. “For example, one car could cost US$20,000.”

Babwah made a case for the car dealers to receive a better deal from the banks, pointing out that some wealthy individuals have credit cards with much larger limits to make their foreign purchases.

“They have enough credit and they would utilize the amount of US dollars in one swipe that I would use in a year for my business,” he claimed.

Babwah warned the current situation is unsustainable and he stressed that small and medium sized enterprises urgently needed help to keep their businesses going.

In response, the Bankers Association of Trinidad and Tobago (BATT) explained that foreign exchange inflows into the country have declined significantly and commercial banks have been asked to put trade and manufacturing customers first.
It however assured that commercial banks are working to manage customer expectations through a “very difficult market reality” where no industry, group or individual may be able to receive all the US dollars that they require.

In the meantime, the Automotive Dealers Association has called for a meeting with Finance Minister Colm Imbert.

Article compliments Caribbean