The Trinidad & Tobago Coalition of Services Industries (TTCSI) believes that the measures outlined in the 2015 Fiscal Budget Presentation should have been geared towards transformation of the economy, rather than facilitating the country’s day-to-day operations in a piece-meal fashion.
Moreover, while the umbrella services sector body is pleased to see some of it’s proposed measures mentioned in the 2015 Fiscal Package, it recognizes that timelines for execution were omitted.
We refer specifically to the
- Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property Bill
- Credit Union Bill
- Beverage Containers Bill
Stated timelines would certainly give private sector more predictability thereby positively impacting on our sustainable growth in a targeted way.
There has been much discussion surrounding large projects in the Budget and the construction industry awaits with baited breath the passage of this most important piece of legislation, which second only to the Constitution. The Senate approved this bill since June 11, 2014. Finance Minister Larry Howai stated that the government is in the process of expediting the regulations to make the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property Bill 2014 effective, once it’s approved by the Honourable House.” Our membership has expressed grave concern on the matter.
The passage of the Insurance and Credit Union Bills, are a sine qua non to the strengthening of the regulatory framework. No date has been given for the passage of these Bills. Minister Howai said the government “shall soon be laying in parliament a revised Insurance Act,” followed by the subsequent laying of a new Credit Union Bill.
TTCSI would like to see the government to hold true to its promise and to treat with the passage of these Bills as a matter of urgency.
Of noteworthy mention is the payment of the backlog of VAT refunds. TTCSI was also pleased to hear that government would be addressing this by the end of the new fiscal year. This is of particular importance to the financial health of the SME sector, as these refunds would go back into their working capital cycle.
No word on e-commerce
Another grave concern expressed by the TTCSI is that there was no mention of the updated Audit and Exchequer Act to allow online payments to and from government entities, which puts incentives/measures in place to encourage the banks to provide a facility for the acceptance of online payments by its customers.
The creation of an effective and efficient e-commerce environment is an essential component to the diversification thrust. Through successive administrations, lip services have been paid to this initiative, and still nothing has been done. Diversification can easily be undermined if proper systems are not in place to create a viable e-commerce environment.
On the issue of diversification, TTCSI took notice of the measures outlined for Arts & Entertainment, Maritime, Hotels and Yachting, however, the services sector, particularly the creative industries are yet to see more sustainable measures that would facilitate the growth and development of the sector. For example, a review of the Carnival governance structure to ensure sustainable transformation within three years. Carnival is this country’s largest revenue earner in the Creative Industries, but for years this event has been beset by problems. It is ideal for a Public-Private Partnership to address the governance issues and the management of this global event.
However, as TTCSI continues its drive and commitment in building capacity and increasing services exports, this organization is looking forward to continued partnership with government and stakeholders in creating an enabling environment to stimulate growth and for the sector to become a greater foreign exchange earner. There is no doubt this is the opportune time to invest in the Services Sector, as it continues show strength and buoyancy.
The TTCSI understands only too well the need for our nation to strive towards becoming a knowledge-based economy. For this to happen the government must embark on a cohesive approach to the services sector instead of a knee-jerk reaction as it’s a viable alternative to build a sustainable economy.
The Trinidad and Tobago Coalition of Service Industries is a business support organization that brings together all services sector organizations and associations. This alliance represents 60% of the Labour Force and 48% GDP in Trinidad and Tobago and is an important element of Government’s overall drive to develop the non-energy sector. TTCSI functions as a focal point to lobby, channel and address trade and development issues that are critical for the services sector to thrive in the competitive global environment. Its Mission is to monitor and assess the global business environment, facilitate and assist the local services sector to become increasingly competitive internationally, and to contribute to the development and growth of the national economy.
For Further information:
Communications & Marketing Officer
T&T Coalition of Services Industries
45, Cornelio St, Woodbrook
Tel: 868: 622-9229/ Cell: 776 1741
Fax: 868-622- 8985