Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 11th 2014 Contents SEPTEMBER 2014 • WEEK TWO www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
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but the increase may be considered counterintuitive in an
already tight and competitive labour market. Perhaps an
increase more directly correlated to productivity would send
a positive signal to the labour market without eroding our
national competitiveness," he said.
Bold measures to tackle crime
Christian Mouttet, chief executive officer of Victor E Mouttet
Ltd, was happy to see the issue of infrastructure and agriculture
"On the positive side, it is encouraging to see the continued
investment in infrastructure, particularly in the developments
of an expanded and improved road network and improved
water supply---both critical to the development of a modern
and efficient economy.
"Positive also has been the focus on improvements in agri-
culture and the continued investment and incentives that the
Government proposes in a sector far too long neglected. Also,
the apparent increase of public/private partnerships in various
areas of the economy must be commended," he said.
He said there were a lack of initiatives in the decline on the
country s productivity and crime.
"Without attempting to be overly dramatic, the labour
market in T&T is in crisis. We are plagued by consistently
low and falling productivity, labour scarcity and high absen-
teeism. The State s continued funding, without any apparent
plan for rationalisation of the CEPEP and URP programmes,
are a major contributor to this, and must be addressed if the
private sector is to grow and be competitive."
He called the level of crime "outrageous."
"In the area of crime, while the construction and refur-
bishment of police stations are welcome initiatives towards
improved policing, tackling the growing and dire crime envi-
ronment requires not incremental measures, but bold and
radical initiatives that seek to have a dramatic impact on crime,
especially homicides. There is simply no excuse for the out-
rageous level of violent crime in a nation of our size and
The positives and negatives
Anya Schnoor, country head, Scotiabank T&T Ltd, in her
commentary on the budget, gave both positive and negative
The positive aspects:
1. Reduction in the projected budget deficit as a percentage
of GDP to 2.3 per cent from 3.6 per cent last year.
2. Continued strengthening of the financial sector and the
proposed implementation of legislation to regulate credit
3. Continued focus on anti-money laundering compliance
and initiatives to improve counter terrorism financing activities
through new legislation and the establishment of a commission
4. Attempts to improve the avenue for savings through the
introduction of proposed savings bonds and increases in the
limits for contributions to registered annuities.
5. Continued efforts to divest state enterprises which will
provide opportunities for alternative forms of investments.
Greater focus is needed on:
1. Bringing long-awaited legislation to Parliament, notably
the new Insurance Act and the Proposed Procurement Bill.
2. Improving the ease of doing business and the productivity
of the public sector.
3. Diversification of the economy away from energy-based
4. The balance between expenditure on short-term social
programmes and long-term infrastructural projects which will
generate sustainable growth.
Minimum wage eroding productivity
The T&T Manufacturers Association (TTMA) gave its views
on sectors ranging from agriculture to legislation to labour
On procurement legislation, the TTMA said: "Given our
ongoing interest in having a transparent procurement frame-
work, the association is pleased to learn of the Government s
intention to develop an Office of Procurement Regulation.
However, we observe that no clear mention was made regarding
the expected date for its establishment. Notwithstanding, we
look forward to this being put in place before the end of 2014,
along with sufficient provisions for local content.
On the minimum wage, the TTMA said: "We note that the
minimum wage is expected to increase by 20 per cent from
January 2015. We are concerned that in the absence of a com-
mensurate increase in productivity, there will be a negative
impact on inflation and on our local manufacturers compet-
itiveness. Furthermore, we would like to see a recommissioning
of the National Productivity Council, with a new mandate to
oversee the measurement of productivity in the country."
On the agriculture sector, the TTMA said: "The association
further welcomes the provision of rebates on the cost of refur-
bishing approved facilities for agro-processing, but would
prefer to see this being made available for the entire food and
beverage sector, inclusive of the input suppliers. TTMA further
acknowledges and welcomes the establishment of subsidies
for testing services to assist manufacturers in producing quality
Working closely with foreign investors
The Energy Chamber of T&T said after four years of sig-
nificant fiscal reforms in the energy sector, the fact that this
budget presentation offered no additional amendments to the
fiscal regime governing the energy sector comes as no surprise.
The chamber said the reform undertaken in prior years held
the promise of large proposed investments of US$3.3 billion,
US$3.2 billion and US$2.8 billion for years 2014, 2015 and
"We must not, however, become complacent and take for
granted the willingness of the energy companies to continue
to invest in T&T. We must continue to work closely with these
investors to ensure that there is a proper balance, whereby
the objectives of both the Government and investors are met.
All in all, the outlook for the sector, and, by extension, the
country, is very positive."
Concerns over minimum
wage increase, tight labour
The Ernst and Young budget brochure pro-
vided a summary of T&T's revenue statistics.
Taxes on income and profits: Revised esti-
mates for 2014 are $36,253,697, while esti-
mates for 2015 are $35,473,600
Taxes on international trade: Revised esti-
mates for 2014 are $2,744,094, while esti-
mates for 2015 are $2,815,715
Taxes on goods and services for 2014 are
$6,917,313, while estimates for 2015 are
Non-tax revenue for 2014 are $10,960,886,
while estimates for 2015 are $10,018,696
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country head, Scotiabank T&T Ltd
chief executive officer, Victor E Mouttet Ltd
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