Chaguanas Chamber: Focus on manufacturing, agro-development
President of the Chaguanas Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Vishnu Charran, said the Monday’s budget presentation means businesses must now focus harder on the manufacturing sector.
Speaking to LoopTT, Charran said that he expected Monday’s budget to be difficult for businesses.
He added that there should have been an increase in taxes for alcohol and tobacco products as these imported goods are not considered necessities.
“We did anticipate that things would be difficult. We anticipated that there would be an increase in Corporation Tax, but what we did not see was an increase in tobacco and alcohol, they should have increased taxes in that area.”
“We understand that all these other costs are going to filter down, for example the increase in fuel means public transportation may go up,” he said.
He said that he fears that with tighter restrictions on foreign exchange, many smaller businesses may not survive.
However, he said the push for local businesses to become more competitive and bring in more revenue has always been at the forefront of the Chamber’s objectives.
“The Chaguanas Chamber has been in the forefront in showing that we need to create new entrepreneurs, we need to support start-up businesses, we need people who can get into manufacturing.”
“We need to look at import substitution if we are to survive,” he said.
Charran said there are many small manufacturers who now need local support in helping their products get access into the export market.
Overall, Charran said, businesses must be able to turn the situation around and find ways to succeed.
“This has been the message that the Chaguanas Chamber has been looking at, and we will continue to focus on that. We cannot focus on the doom and gloom and be critical of things. We need to inspire people to be innovative and creative,” he said.
Charran agreed that agricultural development is a critical aspect of helping the country move forward.
“We need to grow more food locally but more than that, we have the capacity to get into the agro-processing business, and that is where efforts and private sector investment have to be made,” he said.
Charran said citizens and businesses cannot expect government continue providing support and must now seek out new ideas.
“We cannot depend on the government to do everything for us. I believe the government has sent the signal that we need to get back working harder and smarter, and more creatively,” he said.
He added that the area of ICT (Information Communication Technology) is another critical development area.
“There are many bright young graduates in the area of ICT who are eager to develop and test their skills,” he said.
On Wednesday, the Chamber will be hosting a Post Budget Consultation, entitled “Opportunities and challenges for SMEs and entrepreneurs”, along with the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business (ALJGSB) at the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business, Mt Hope Campus, Yara Auditorium from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm.
Topics of discussion include opportunities and challenges for SMEs and entrepreneurs, analysis of the economic impact of the budget, the impact of taxation on businesses goods and services, stabilizing the economy to foster a robust business environment, foreign exchange and the devaluation of the Trinidad and Tobago dollar.
For highlights of the Budget presentation see: 12 Highlights of the 2018 Budget