Tuesday 2 June, 2020

AMCHAM responds to 2020 budget: Don't spend more than you earn

The American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM T&T) has responded to the Government's 2019-2020 budget raising concerns with the forecasted expenses.

While praising some of the initiatives, AMCHAM questioned why more money was being spent than what was expected to be earned.

"We are uneasy that the government is increasing expenditure and again planning a fiscal deficit in 2020. This follows a year in which the government’s revenue was bolstered by more than $5 billion in one-off revenue yet resulted in an almost $4 billion deficit. AMCHAM T&T would like to see a clear link between revenue and expenditure patterns with a view towards realistically achieving a balanced budget in the near future. This must be placed in the context of the government’s medium-term policy framework with special emphasis on sustainable growth and improving the ease of doing business."

The T&T Chamber also lamented that the budget presentation did not address the ease of doing business in a more deliberate and tangible way.

However, much of the Government's initiatives were highlighted as positive. 

This includes the use of technology to improve the public sector experience.

"We applaud the efforts towards digital transformation of the public sector, in particular, the linking of the birth certificate personal identification number to the death registry with the objective of simplifying pension payments. We also note similar efforts in the licensing department and encourage acceleration and deployment of digital transformation across the wider public sector, which we believe will aid in improving the ease of doing business."

AMCHAM also praised the move to dedicate the soon-to-be-vacated waterfront building for civil matters to be heard.

"We hope that this will also lead to speedier resolution of commercial disputes. We also hope that the freeing up of the High Court to deal with more criminal matters will result in timelier delivery of justice for all."

Another positive point of mention for the T&T Chamber was the new tax incentives for the development of the agricultural sector. However, questions were raised as to who the initiative sought to benefit.

"We seek clarification on whether this applies to farmers or corporations or both. We are unsure that this will be enough to stimulate the sector as other concerns such as irrigation and praedial larceny still need to be addressed."

Meanwhile, AMCHAM also applauded the announcement of the Styrofoam ban and said it looked forward to its implementation.  Further environmental positives highlighted include the initiatives supporting enhanced energy efficiency, for example, tax incentives for solar heaters and the planned changeout of regular to LED light bulbs.


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