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Wednesday 12 August, 2020

AMCHAM T&T gives Government three tips to move T&T forward

AMCHAM T&T CEO Nirad Tewarie.

AMCHAM T&T CEO Nirad Tewarie.

The American Chamber of Industry and Commerce (AMCHAM T&T) has suggested that the Government takes steps to improve Trinidad and Tobago's social and economic status and improve the state's relationships with its foreign partners.

AMCHAM T&T issued a statement on Thursday expressing concern that the country will not raise its gross domestic product due to the decline of the oil and gas industry among other external realities.

Mentioning the recent closure of several plants in Point Lisas and the increase in serious, violent crimes, the Chamber lamented that this reduces T&T's attractiveness to possible international investors.

As such, AMCHAM T&T proposed three steps to attain all of the above.

The first is the establishment of an accountability council to engage and inform the public as well as external stakeholders on the country’s transformation plan. The Chamber likened this model to that of the daily press briefings to advise the population on the country’s COVID-19 statistics which it deemed a success.

As it relates to applying this system to the business sector, AMCHAM T&T believes it should be a joint effort with Labour, Civil Society, Government, and Private Sector for citizen engagement and responses to questions and concerns.

“Creating these high level objectives, specific milestones, pre-defined metrics of success and communicating the progress are the ever-present responsibilities and job of leadership, and it is only through collaborative engagement can we be responsible and accountable for this and make it real. This can be achieved by re-purposing existing tri-partite institutions such as the NTAC or through the creation of an additional body."

The second proposal is the prioritisation of efficiency, transparency, stability and predictability in the country’s political and economic climate. This ought to be measured against hemispheric neighbours as it relates to ease of doing business and the rule of law.

“AMCHAM T&T’s immediate priorities are the fast-tracking and implementation of the following areas of legislation, old and new: Public Procurement, The Bail Bill, Transformed Tax collection and administration, Customs and Immigration transformation including full implementation of the ASYCUDA system, the adoption of a single national identification number, full acceptance of electronic signatures by the GORTT and fully-implemented legislative arrangements and processes for e-payments., We are convinced that these measures will collectively revolutionize the ease of doing business in Trinidad and Tobago. We must simplify and not remain in bondage to age old bureaucratic practices which originated pre-independence.”

Meanwhile, the Chamber’s final suggestion is that the Government moves to restore bilateral and multilateral relationships to attract investment. Hinting at Trinidad’s recognition of Nicolas Maduro as Venezuela’s legitimate leader which landed the country in hot waters with the United States, AMCHAM T&T urged the administration to bolster its relationship with Washington.

“We should give primacy to our relationships with countries which are likely sources of FDI and who also espouse and uphold our governance and business values. Specifically, we should engage the United States of America to develop initiatives that could form the basis of investment for growth under the America Crece programme and formalize this via an MOU through the US Embassy in Port-of-Spain. Simultaneously, we must continue to support the development of the economies of CARICOM and work towards the full implementation of the Single Economy. This must however be done with the recognition that CARICOM is not going to pull us out of where we find ourselves, and with the near total collapse of the tourism industry, several Caribbean countries will themselves need innovative stabilization and growth strategies over the next decade.”

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