Saturday 14 December, 2019

'Mixed reactions' from T&T Chamber on 2017 Budget

The T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce has been left with mixed reactions following the presentation of the 2017 National Budget in Parliament on Friday.

In an immediate response to the fiscal package presented by Finance Minister Colm Imbert, the Chamber says while it’s pleased by some of the measures announced, and the Minister’s attempt to address several long-standing issues that have been recurring over time, it remains concerned that compliant businesses and individuals are now subject to increased taxes.

The T&T Chamber applauded the package of measures that would specifically impact upon the tourism product in Tobago, also, incentivising the opportunities for Public Private Partnerships as they relate to infrastructural projects.

It believes the measures to stimulate the local agricultural sector along with its ancillary services is a step in the right direction. With proper execution and management, the Chamber says these could help to address future growth and investment prospects.

“Altogether, the provisions identified will further assist and safeguard the more vulnerable in society,” it said.

The Chamber is of the view that the long standing issue of inefficient tax collection should have been addressed, rather than increasing an already effective tax rate for those individuals and companies who are already compliant.

However, it looks forward to the establishment of the long-awaited Revenue Authority in 2017.

The plan to close the fiscal deficit before one-off extraordinary items is a cause of concern for the Chamber as it did not materialise as expected. It believes that there can be dire consequences if Government spending continues in the manner in which it is being conducted.

“The apparent lack of efficiency in Government spending is evidenced by the continued budget deficit and increasing debt to GDP ratio. If left unchecked, the latter can lead to possible downgrades as recently experienced by one of our CARICOM counterparts.”

Focusing on crime and its impact on doing business in Trinidad and Tobago, the Chamber says while it does not have the full details of the measures to be implemented, it’s pleased that there was a focus on initiatives to reduce white collar crime.

The T&T Chamber says it looks forward to debate on the budget presents and remains committed to working with Government toward the future sustainability of the country.

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