ABOUT THE BANK 1. When was the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago established? The Central Bank was established by an Act of Parliament on December 12, 1964. 2. Who was the first Governor of the Central Bank? The first Governor of the Central Bank was Mr. John Pierce (1964 to 1966). 3. Who is the current Governor? The present Governor is Dr. Alvin Hilaire. He has served as Governor from December 2015. 4. Who were the previous Governors? • John Pierce (1964 – 1966) • Dr. Alexander McLeod (1966 – 1969) • Victor Bruce (1969 – 1984) • Dr. Euric Bobb (1984 – 1988) • William Demas (1988 – 1992) • Thomas Ainsworth Harewood (1992 – 1997) • Winston Dookeran (1997 – 2002) • Ewart S. Williams (2002 – 2012) • Jwala Rambarran (2011 – 2015) 5. Where is the Central Bank located? The Central Bank is housed in one of the “Twin Towers”, located at the Eric Williams Financial Complex in Port of Spain. 6. Where was the Central Bank located previously? The Central Bank was located at the Treasury Building, Independence Square, Port of Spain before moving to its current location in 1986. 7. How many floors are there in the Central Bank tower? The Central Bank tower has 21 floors. 8. How is the Governor of the Central Bank appointed? The Governor, Deputy Governor and other Directors are appointed by the President by written instrument. 9. How long is the Governor’s term? The Governor’s term is five years. Governors may be appointed for more than one term. 10. Who owns the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago? The Central Bank’s entire share capital is held by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago. However, the Act of Parliament which established the Central Bank in 1964 gives the institution operational autonomy. This autonomy is reflected in the duties assigned to the Governor in Section 10 of the Central Bank Act Chapter 79:02. 11. What are the main roles/functions of the Central Bank? The Central Bank has as its principal mandate the promotion of monetary, credit and exchange conditions that are favourable to the development of Trinidad and Tobago. To fulfil this purpose the Central Bank has been assigned a range of functions or responsibilities and powers. Some of the functions of the Central Bank are to: 1. Issue and redeem currency 2. Act as the banker to the Government and licensed financial institutions 3. Act as the lender of last resort to the commercial banks 4. Promote monetary and financial stability 5. Manage the foreign exchange market and the country’s foreign exchange reserves. 12. What is the relationship between the Central Bank and the Ministry of Finance? The Central Bank and the Ministry of Finance coordinate monetary and fiscal policies geared toward promoting the stability and development of the domestic economy. This is reflected in several joint working committees. The Governor of the Central Bank is also required by law to consult with and/or inform the Minister of Finance on selected issues. 13. How can I contact the Central Bank? The Bank can be contacted via phone: (868) 621-CBTT (2288) or (868) 235-CBTT (2288), or email: [email protected] For specific details on departmental contacts use the following link: https://www.central-bank.org.tt/form/contact 14. What is the Office of the Financial Services Ombudsman? The Office of the Financial Services Ombudsman (OFSO) was established in May 2003 by the Central Bank in conjunction with the commercial banks, and subsequently insurance companies, operating in Trinidad and Tobago. The main objective of the OFSO is to provide fair, sound assistance to customers who are not satisfied with their financial services provider and to mediate on behalf of those who have a valid complaint with their institution, provided that the complaint falls under the Terms of Reference (TOR) under which the OFSO operates. This service is provided free of charge to citizens and residents of Trinidad and Tobago. For more information on the OFSO see their website: https://www.ofso.org.tt/ or follow @ofsott on Facebook and Instagram. 15. What is the National Financial Literacy Programme? The National Financial Literacy Programme (NFLP) is an outreach arm of the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago. The Unit provides education and advice to the public on a range of issues related to personal financial management. The key objective of the programme is to sensitise individuals about the importance of personal financial planning, budgeting, saving, retirement and debt management. The NFLP provides financial literacy sessions (free of charge) to members of the public, organisations and community groups. For further information on NFLP services, you may contact the Office via: Tel: (868) 621-2288 (ext. 2815, 2816, 2817, 2818 or 2227) Fax: (868) 612-6314 Email: [email protected] Facebook and Instagram: @nflptt Website: www.nflp.org.tt 16. What is the Deposit Insurance Corporation? The Deposit Insurance Corporation (DIC) is an institution established by the Central Bank and Financial Institutions (Non-Banking) (Amendment) Act, 1986. The DIC plays a critical role in contributing to the continued stability of Trinidad and Tobago’s financial system as a whole. Its main function is to manage a Fund to provide insurance protection for depositors against the potential loss of their deposits, should a member financial institution fail. For more information, visit the DIC’s website – www.dictt.org. CURRENCY 1. In what year were the first Trinidad and Tobago banknotes issued? The first Trinidad and Tobago notes were issued in 1964. 2. Why was there a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on the first Trinidad and Tobago notes? Queen Elizabeth II’s portrait was on this country’s first notes because she was the Head of State when the notes were issued in 1964. The portrait of Queen Elizabeth II was removed when a new suite of notes was issued in 1977, after Trinidad and Tobago became a Republic. The Queen’s portrait was then replaced by the Trinidad and Tobago Coat of Arms. 3. In what year were the first local coins issued? The first local coins were issued in 1966. 4. Does the Central Bank print Trinidad and Tobago’s notes? The Central Bank does not print notes. All of the notes issued by the Bank are designed and printed at De La Rue, a currency company in London, and then shipped to Trinidad and Tobago. 5. Are our coins minted locally? No, our coins are not minted locally. They are minted at the Royal Canadian Mint. 6. Who decides what designs end up on our currency? The Bank, with the approval of the Ministry of Finance, takes decisions on the denominations, the substrate and the characteristics of notes and coins. The Bank engages the services of reputable printers and minters to produce these notes and coins. 7. What is counterfeiting? Counterfeiting refers to the intentional and calculated reproduction of a genuine article (such as money or trademark) for the purpose of misleading the recipient or buyer into believing that he or she is receiving or buying the genuine article. 8. What should I do if I discover that one of my notes is counterfeit? If a person receives what appears to be a counterfeit note, he should immediately take it to the nearest police station or the Central Bank, indicating to the best of his knowledge from whom he received the note and under what circumstances. 9. Can I exchange local currency for foreign currency at the Central Bank? No, this transaction can only be done with authorised dealers of currency. These institutions are: • Bank of Baroda (Trinidad & Tobago) Limited • Citibank (Trinidad & Tobago) Limited • First Citizens Bank Limited • FirstCaribbean International Bank (Trinidad & Tobago) Limited • JMMB Bank (Trinidad & Tobago) Limited • RBC Royal Bank (Trinidad & Tobago) Limited • Republic Bank Limited • Scotiabank (Trinidad & Tobago) Limited • Ansa Merchant Bank Limited • Development Finance Limited • Massy Finance GFC Ltd. • NCB Global Finance Limited Additionally, Bureaux de Change operators are authorised to buy or sell foreign currency notes, coins and travellers cheques only. There are currently six (6) licensed Bureaux de Change: • Eastern Credit Union Co-Operative Society Limited • Global Exchange Trinidad And Tobago Limited • Grace Kennedy (Trinidad & Tobago) Limited • Massy Remittance Services (Trinidad) Ltd. • Millennium Finance And Leasing Company Limited • Trinidad And Tobago Unit Trust Corporation 10. Can I open a bank account at the Central Bank? No, the general public cannot open accounts at the Central Bank. The Bank maintains accounts for the Government and holds reserve accounts for licensed financial institutions. 11. Can I cash a cheque at the Central Bank? Personal cheques cannot be cashed at the Central Bank. This must be done at a local commercial bank. 12. Will the Central Bank exchange money that has been damaged/burnt? The Central Bank exchanges money that is damaged/burnt, providing that an area or areas in excess of 50 per cent of the note is visible. According to Section 26(5) of the Central Bank Act Chapter 79:02 “A note that is mutilated, defaced or impaired or that has been reduced in size so that the identification marks have become unrecognisable is not legal tender”. 13. Why was the one cent coin removed from circulation? The one cent coin was removed from circulation because of the high cost of minting and its limited circulation. The minting cost was approximately 21 cents for a single one cent coin. 14. Will the Bank be changing all cotton notes to polymer notes? The Bank’s Strategic Plan 2016/17-2020/21 identifies the streamline of currency issue as a key objective. Polymer notes assist with facilitating this because of their improved durability, security features and increased accessibility to the visually impaired. The $100 polymer note was issued in December 2019 with the first notes being made available to the public from December 9, 2019. The Bank unveiled the concept designs for the entire suite of polymer notes on its website in March 2020 and updated the designs on the website in August 2020. The polymer notes for the other denominations are expected to be distributed to the public from the later part of 2020. MONETARY POLICY 1. What is monetary policy? Monetary policy refers to the actions and decisions taken by the Central Bank or monetary authority of a country (usually by influencing interest rates) to maintain price stability and promote economic growth and development. In Trinidad and Tobago, the Central Bank is mandated to maintain a low and stable rate of inflation, an orderly foreign exchange market and an adequate level of foreign reserves. 2. What is inflation? Inflation refers to the rate of increase in the level of prices from one period to another and is normally measured by percentage changes in the cost of a representative basket of consumer goods and services. In Trinidad and Tobago, the Retail Prices Index is the indicator used to measure inflation. Inflation is separated into “headline” and “core” inflation. Headline inflation refers to the change in the overall Retail Prices Index. On the other hand, core inflation in Trinidad and Tobago excludes changes in the prices of food, which can be quite volatile. 3. What is the Repo rate? Since mid-2002, the Central Bank has been utilising the Repo rate as its main policy tool to achieve its mandate. The Repo rate is the rate of interest at which commercial banks can borrow funds overnight from the Central Bank. Changes in the Repo rate influence commercial banks’ short-term interest rates and, ultimately, the interest rate structures of commercial banks and other financial institutions. It is the main monetary policy tool used by the Central Bank. 4. How is the Central Bank organised internally to enable monetary policy decision-making? The Central Bank has a specific framework in place to facilitate timely and efficient monetary policy decision-making. This framework consists of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) which is responsible for the development and implementation of monetary policy. It comprises the Governor, Deputy Governor and Senior Manager, Operations. This committee sets the Repo rate, issues the quarterly Monetary Policy Announcement and oversees the publication of the semi-annual Monetary Policy Report. The MPC is supported by the Monetary Policy Secretariat (MPS) which undertakes ongoing analysis of the latest economic and financial information. 5. What are the other monetary policy tools? The Bank can employ both direct and indirect/market-based monetary policy tools. In addition to the Repo rate, the other main market-based tool used is open market operations. This involves buying and selling Government securities to manage the levels of liquidity in the financial system. Too much liquidity can fuel inflation. Direct instruments primarily involve the use of reserve requirements. The Bank can also use a Secondary Reserve Requirement and Special Deposit Facilities if necessary. THE FOREIGN EXCHANGE MARKET 1. What role does the Central Bank play in the Foreign Exchange Market? Under the authority of the Exchange Control and Central Bank Acts, the Central Bank is responsible for management of the domestic foreign exchange market. The Central Bank licenses and regulates the financial institutions that conduct foreign exchange transactions. Collectively, these institutions are referred to as the "authorised dealers" in the domestic foreign exchange market. The Central Bank may intervene in the foreign exchange market to contain undue volatility in the exchange rate. Interventions typically involve the sale of foreign currency to authorised dealers to meet excess demand but may also include the purchase of foreign currency from the authorised dealers in cases of excess supply. 2. Who sets the exchange rate? The exchange rate is the rate/price at which the TT dollar can be exchanged for another currency. On April 13, 1993, Trinidad and Tobago adopted a floating exchange rate regime, in which exchange rates are to be determined by the forces of supply and demand. However, Trinidad and Tobago’s regime can be described as a “managed float” whereby the rate may be influenced by the monetary authority. 3. What is the difference between a fixed and floating exchange rate? Unlike the floating rate which is determined by the forces of demand and supply for foreign exchange, a fixed rate is a rate set and maintained as the official rate by the monetary authorities. This rate is usually set against the US dollar or other major world currencies or a basket of currencies. To maintain the exchange rate the central bank (monetary authority) buys and sells the local currency in return for the currency against which it is fixed. The monetary authority can adjust the official rate as required. INTERNATIONAL RESERVES 1. What is meant by foreign reserves? Foreign reserves refer to those external assets denominated in currencies other than the TT dollar that are readily available to and controlled by the Central Bank for meeting balance of payments financing needs, for intervention in the domestic foreign exchange market to affect the currency exchange rate, and for other related purposes (such as maintaining confidence in the currency and the economy, and serving as a basis for foreign borrowing). In other words, any financial asset, for example physical cash, gold, government securities (e.g. treasury bills and bonds), reserve holdings at the IMF as well as deposits held in financial institutions abroad, would form part of the Bank’s foreign reserves. 2. Does the Central Bank use gold to back its currency? No, the currency is not backed by gold. While in the past, currency was backed by gold, today, currencies are backed by the governments that issue them. Gold was used to back currency when countries subscribed to the gold standard. This standard required that the currency held by a government be matched equally by the value of a physical quantity of gold held by the government. This system, however, limited the government’s flexibility in terms of creating new money (more currency could only be obtained with a simultaneous increase in the value of gold held by the government). 3. What is import cover? The import cover is one indicator used to measure the adequacy of a country’s international reserves. It essentially computes the number of months the country’s reserves would last if used to fund future (prospective) imports. It is calculated using the following formula - (International Reserves/Prospective Imports of Goods and Services) x 12 Prospective imports refer to imports forecast for a 12-month period. The international benchmark requires countries to have at least three months of import cover and six months for oil-exporting nations. 4. What is the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund? The Heritage and Stabilisation Fund was created for saving and investing surplus petroleum revenues for use in smoothing Government expenditure during downturns, and for future generations. It was established by the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund Act, No. 6 of 2007, with effect from March 15, 2007. 5. What is the role of the Central Bank as it relates to the Heritage & Stabilisation Fund? The Central Bank is responsible for the management, investment and supervision of the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund in accordance with the provisions of the Act, the terms and conditions of the Instrument of Delegation, and the Operational and Investment Guidelines approved by the Board of Governors. In its role as Manager, the Bank is required to invest the Fund’s assets, select appropriate third party service providers, select a global custodian for the Fund, maintain the Fund’s records and prepare quarterly and annual financial statements. The HSF has its own Board of Directors appointed by the President. The Central Bank is represented by the Governor on the Board. FINANCIAL STABILITY 1. What is financial stability? Financial stability is defined as the resilience of the financial system to adverse shocks to enable the continued smooth functioning of financial intermediation and payments settlement, as well as, the financial system’s ability to return to a sustainable, healthy position after an adverse shock. 2. How do changes in the economy (e.g. a fall in government revenue) affect financial stability? The real and financial sectors are intrinsically related as financial institutions exist to allocate funds between borrowers and savers, while the economy needs an efficient financial sector to support sustainable growth and development. For this reason, disruptions to economic activity may compromise the soundness of the financial sector given the exposure of households and firms to the sector. Economic shocks for example can give rise to funding challenges, asset quality deterioration, and asset valuation impairments in financial institutions. While the frequency and intensity of economic shocks can vary, sufficient capital and liquidity buffers can help ensure that financial institutions have the capability to withstand some economic volatility without experiencing debilitating stress. 3. Who is responsible for ensuring that the financial system is stable? The stability of the financial system lies with the regulators of the various sectors, namely the Central Bank (commercial banks, non-bank financial institutions, insurance companies, pension plans and bureax de change), the Trinidad and Tobago Securities and Exchange Commission (securities market), the Financial Intelligence Unit of Trinidad and Tobago (anti-money laundering and countering the financing of tourism (AML/CFT)) and the Co-Operative Development Division of the Ministry of Labour and Small Enterprise Development (credit unions). The Ministry of Finance also plays a key role by ensuring financial sector legislation remains robust. In addition, on matters of systemic importance, the Ministry of Finance has worked closely with the Central Bank in dealing with financial crises and implementing financial stability measures. 4. What is the role of the Central Bank as it relates to the financial system? The Central Bank plays a significant role in promoting and maintaining the stability of the financial system. The Bank is required to: • maintain confidence in, and promote the soundness and stability of, the financial system in Trinidad and Tobago; • promote the existence of efficient and fair banking and financial services markets; • supervise all licensees to determine whether they are in sound financial condition and in compliance with their respective legislation; • maintain an appropriate level of protection for depositors, policyholders and pension plan members; • monitor and control systemic risks that can stem from each of the components – financial institutions, financial markets and financial markets infrastructures. 5. What is required to open a bank? Guided by the Financial Institutions Act 2008, a person intending to carry on the business of banking has to apply for a licence under Section 20 of the Act in order to do so. Applications are accompanied by a statement of the applicant’s name, address of office(s), a certified statement or proof, as the Central Bank may require proof of the applicant’s ability to meet the requirement of minimum stated capital or assigned capital of not less than TT$15 million or such increased amounts as may be required. Further details on these requirements can be accessed here: THE FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS ACT, 2008 6. Are customers of a commercial bank required to disclose the source of funds to be deposited to their accounts? Where a customer has an established business relationship with a financial institution and the funds being deposited are in accordance with normal activity on the account (e.g. salary deposits to the accounts from the customer’s employer), the customer may not be required to disclose the source of funds. However, a customer is required to disclose the source of funds where a new customer is seeking to open an account with the institution or where an existing customer conducts a transaction that either: a) exceeds the threshold established in Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorist Financing legislation (e.g. TT$90,000) b) exceeds the institution’s established threshold c) is not in keeping with the regular business activity on the account. 7. Where can I obtain a copy of the audited financial statements of a financial institution? A financial institution is required to make copies of audited financial statements available for inspection by its depositors and other customers upon request. This information must be kept at each of its offices. In addition, the Financial Institutions Act 2008 requires all financial institutions to publish audited financial statements in the daily newspaper within three months after the close of its financial year. PUBLICATIONS AND EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES 1. What publications are produced by the Bank? The Bank produces several major publications; the major publications are the: • Monetary Policy Report • Financial Stability Report • Annual Economic Survey • Economic Bulletin • Annual Report 2. Where are these found? All publications can be found under the “Publications” tab of the homepage of the Central Bank’s website. 3. Can I subscribe to get new releases? The Bank does not currently maintain a subscription service, but reports can be downloaded in PDF format via the website’s “Publications” section. 4. Can I purchase hardcopy publications? Purchases of hardcopy publications are facilitated through the Bank’s Knowledge and Information Management Division of the Information Services Department; however, hard copies are only maintained for special publications. 5. What other educational resources are available? In addition to the above publications, the Bank also produced a series of pamphlets on the following topics: 1. Monetary Policy 2. Inflation 3. The Residential Mortgage Market 4. The Government Securities Market 5. The Payment System The Bank also has educational videos on its YouTube channel. Additionally, the National Financial Literacy Programme’s (NFLP) website offers information on their services, FAQs and a selection of publications on financial management. See link: http://www.nflp.org.tt/ CENTRAL BANK MUSEUM AND ART COLLECTION 1. When was the Museum opened? The Bank first opened its museum in 2004. At that time, it was called the Money Museum. After running successfully for 10 years and hosting numerous visitors, the Money Museum was closed in 2014 for an upgrade. In January 2019, the rebranded Central Bank Museum was opened as a new state-of-the-art, interactive museum. 2. What are some of the exhibits? The exhibits include three categories of items: It’s YOUR Bank, The Economy, Energy and Diversification and The Art and Science of Money, as well as exhibitions of art work from the Bank’s extensive Art Collection. 3. When can I visit? The Museum is open from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday to Friday. Walk-in visitors are welcome; groups larger than 15 people are required to book a tour. Access the tour booking form via the following link:Form https://www.central-bank.org.tt/sites/default/files/page-file-uploads/Museum_Visit_Request_Form.pdf 4. What are the tour schedules? There is no fixed tour schedule; groups of over 15 may coordinate the time of their tours with Museum staff when booking. Contact the museum for further details – (868) 621-2288 ext. 2400 or 2737 or email [email protected] You may also follow the Central Bank Museum on Instagram @cbttmuseum. 5. Is there a fee to visit the Museum? No, admission to the Museum is free of charge and does not require bookings for groups with fewer than 15 persons. 6. Is photography permitted in the Museum? Yes, photography of exhibits is permitted. 7. How many pieces of art are there in the Bank’s collection? The Bank currently holds over 200 pieces of art, which include two- and three-dimensional fine art pieces but the collection is continually expanding. The Bank only buys art from local artists; however the collection also includes pieces from regional and international artists that were gifted to us. 8. When did the Bank start its art collection? The Bank started its art collection in 1965, with a fused glass mosaic piece entitled “Construction” by artist Marguerite Wyke an American-born, Trinidadian. 9. Is there a gift shop? There is a small kiosk from which visitors can purchase small Museum tokens such as shopping bags, bottles, key chains, colouring books, the Central Bank Art Book and other special Bank publications. 10. Are there any special facilities for kids? The Museum was designed specifically with children in mind, from the height of the exhibit displays to the inclusion of a mock grocery; it was intended to ensure that children enjoyed the ultimate museum experience. 11. Does the museum accept donations of art and artefacts? Yes, the Museum accepts donations of art and artefacts however all proposed donations are reviewed by a special acquisitions committee and only accepted if they meet the Bank’s policy requirements. 12. Does the Museum value art, artifacts and coins for the public? No, the Museum does not conduct valuations of these items for the public. AUDITORIUM 1. When was the Auditorium opened? The Central Bank Auditorium was opened in 1986 as a space designed not only to serve the Bank’s needs, but also to contribute towards the enhancement of the performing arts in Trinidad and Tobago. The Auditorium is located at the corner of lower St. Vincent Street and Wrightson Road, and seats 411 persons within an intimate setting. To better serve the practitioners and patrons of the arts, the Auditorium was fully refurbished in 2012 to include modern seating that complemented the Bank’s new brand colours. State-of-the-art digital lighting and sound technologies were also installed at that time. 2. What types of events are hosted here? The Central Bank Auditorium is available for rental for the following functions: Conferences, Lectures, Meetings, Graduations, etc. Performing Arts e.g. Drama, Dance, Musicals, Concerts and Religious Meetings. 3. What does it cost to rent the Central Bank Auditorium? For a full listing of rental rates please visit the below link: https://bit.ly/2QqLUIM 4. How can I book the Auditorium for my event? Reservations for the use of the Central Bank Auditorium can be made by the completing the Auditorium Application Form located at the Bank’s Reception Desk on the ground floor, or online at: https://bit.ly/2CXquQe 5. How can I get more information? For more information on rules and regulations, seating plan, stage dimensions and technical information and to take a virtual tour, please visit the Auditorium’s page at the following link: https://www.central-bank.org.tt/auditorium/about-auditorium and its Facebook page @cbttauditorium.