Friday 27 November, 2020

Chamber disappointed with measures to treat with Forex issues

The Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce is disappointed with the way the budget addressed the Foreign Exchange shortage. 

In a release, the Chamber said the budget did not appear to adequately address the current mismatch between supply and demand for foreign exchange.

"While we acknowledge that certain sectors will be given preferred access, the measure seems to have been put in place because of the anticipated continuation in foreign exchange shortages," the Chamber said in an immediate release. 

In his budget presentation, Finance Minister Colm Imbert said one of the major challenges for exporters at this time is access to foreign exchange for raw materials and other essential inputs into manufacturing.

To address this problem, the Government is establishing a facility to allow eligible exporters to access foreign exchange through the EximBank, which will be licensed to be a dealer in foreign exchange.  

The T&T Chamber acknowledged that some effort was made to treat with the existing unsustainable level of transfers and subsidies stating that a modern T&T economy demands efficient government services but no long-term strategy was clearly identified towards achieving this objective. 

On a positive note, the Chamber said it is pleased that the Honourable Minister of Finance has recognised the urgent need for fundamental transformation at this critical time when it can no longer be business as usual.  
"The Minister made some laudable first steps towards incentivizing the desired outcomes in some important areas such as: small business development, startups, agriculture and housing, to name a few. In that regard, the T&T Chamber looks forward to further development of the cohesive and fully transformative strategy as the debate unfolds. 
"We are heartened that the Finance Minister seemed to have included several of the Chamber’s recommendations submitted for consideration. As such, we anticipate future collaborations with the Government in building business resilience through the development of startups,' the Chamber said. 
The Chamber said from its initial analysis, it did not appear that expenditure was addressed as aggressively as they would have hoped.

"At the same time, while the tax base will be broadened somewhat with the implementation of the TT Revenue Authority, the Government continues to increase taxes on those already compliant to make up the budget shortfall," the  Chamber said. 
The  Chamber also welcomes news of the operationalisation of the Office of Procurement Regulation (OPR) early next year. This represents a progressive step towards greater transparency and accountability, which in turn promotes increased value for money. 
The T&T Chamber said it will be reviewing the Minister’s presentation in greater detail over the next few weeks.

"In the meantime, we stand ready to collaborate with the Government and other stakeholders in the effort to put our economy on a sustainable path."

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