Friday 27 November, 2020

AMCHAM pleased with Govt’s plans to privatise port, liberalise fuel

The American Chamber of Industry and Commerce (AMCHAM T&T) has expressed optimism following the budget presented by Finance Minister Colm Imbert on Monday, noting that it outlines some initiatives that could set the platform for future growth.

Among the initiatives, AMCHAM appreciates is the thrust toward digitisation.

“We applaud the government’s efforts towards their commitment to digital transformation of the economy. The specific commitment to an e-payment gateway for government services, national e-identity and unique national identification number and the use of virtual courts can all be transformative for both individuals and businesses in all sectors,” it said.

As such, the chamber said it hoped the Minister of Public Administration and Digital Transformation would give specific timelines for implementation, inclusive of appropriate and meaningful consultation with stakeholders.

Furthermore, it said the commitment to tackle specific impediments to the ease of doing business such as the time taken to get permits, modernisation of the port of Port of Spain and liberalisation of  the market, are all welcome.

As it relates to several pieces of critical legislation that are high on the government’s legislative agenda, AMCHAM said it has long called for more bi-partisanship around the passage of legislation.

“We are keen to see both parties in the Parliament work together to pass legislation enabling more efficient tax collection, the full operationalisation of the public procurement legislation and overall improvement in the ease of doing business,” AMCHAM said.

Meanwhile, the group said while the measures may not be enough to raise revenue in the fiscal period, they are likely to stimulate private sector investment, once implemented, in the years to come.

“Such investments will generate jobs and create additional revenue for the country.”

On the downside, AMCHAM T&T raised concerns over the minister’s ambitious prospects for earning revenue given the challenges posed by the novel coronavirus.

“While we are optimistic about what we heard in the budget presentation, AMCHAM T&T is concerned about the Minister’s revenue projections, given that we only managed to raise $32.5B in fiscal 2020 and we are still being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Admittedly, without access to all of the information that the Minister used to calculate his revenue projection, we are somewhat worried that this target is overly ambitious and may force the government to undertake further borrowing or mid-year cuts that could undermine the attempts at modernisation.”

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