Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 12th 2013 Contents Trade, Industry and Investment
Minister Vasant Bharath has
been piloting Government s
ease of doing business initia-
How effective has it been to the business
Is crime still an impediment to an ease in
Stakeholders spoke to the Business Guardian
after the T&T Chamber of Industry and Com-
merce post-budget panel discussion on Tues-
day at Capital Plaza hotel, Wrightson Road,
Former president, American
Simon Aqui said T&T has on the score of
implementing measures for the ease of doing
business, but said there is room for improve-
ment. He applauded the use of technology in
some public sector services.
He outlined two suggestions the Government
should look into.
"What we have put forward doing business
easier in T&T is using technology from that
point of view. We had made a number of sug-
gestions we hope would get introduced from
an accounting point of view as an incentive
for companies to invest in technology. There
are incentives, but more needs to be done,"
Aqui, who is also the general manager at
IBM T&T, said the Government has to put in
place measures to facilitate electronic payments
since "the Government could be the biggest
user of technology and drag businesses into
using technology if they themselves utilise
technology for payments, for doing electronic
transactions," he said.
Commenting on T&T s ranking in the 2013
World Economic Forum s Global Competitive
Index, which placed T&T at spot 92 out of
148 countries, he said: We don t want to be
dropping in any ranking."
Aqui said the criteria, such as inefficiencies
and crime which T&T dropped in, needs to
be addressed "not only from the real elements
that improve those areas, but also from per-
"A lot of these rankings and, in particular,
the World Economic Forum rankings, rely on
input from members of the community, actu-
ally surveys that are filled out, in many cases.
I think the perception needs to be addressed
in terms of how we fill out these surveys; it s
a more accurate reflection where we sit. You
would have also seen some of the rankings
that we know are probably not the reality, but
we have to address the core source of improving
the Government bureaucracy, improving the
crime situation, improving some of the areas
that need to be improved so that we can be,
at the end of the day, a more prosperous
nation," Aqui said.
Scotiabank T&T Ltd
Anya Schnoor said it is always difficult when
attempts are being made to change a bureau-
Schnoor said it is important to implement
measures to do business in an easier way rather
than talk only about it.
"I think what they have done is start the
process. Through the years, they have done
various legislative changes and various
improvements. I think it really comes down
to leadership and focus. If we really want to
encourage businesses to come to T&T, you
have to roll out the red carpet.
"There is so much competition in the world
and it is not just a matter of saying you want
to do it. Each year you have to incrementally
make progress. It is important that we talk
about it, but it s more important to actually
execute the things we say."
Neal and Massy Holdings Ltd
Gervase Warner said he does not believe
the measures outlined in the budget addresses
the issue of "ease of doing business."
"With the exception really of some of the
fiscal incentives that were introduced for the
petroleum industry, for the upstream industry,
that will encourage them to make investment.
"The ability of the shared service sector to
use the Free Trade Act to operate, which makes
it a little easier for them. Some of the fun-
damentals around bureaucracy and things like
registration of property---some of those hard
core things that are really the challenges---
really highlighted in the ease of doing business
were not really addressed in the budget."
Warner said the Minister of Finance and
the Minister of Planning should hold discus-
sions "to figure out how to get some of the
expenditure directed specifically at those
He said T&T should find a way to make
itself more attractive to investors outside of
T&T or we may find ourselves losing busi-
Trade Minister responds
Vasant Bharath said there was need to create
"the enabling environment" in order to attract
foreign direct investment. Bharath said people
can move money with the click of a mouse
and there are no longer geographical barriers
to doing global trade.
In order to get the ball rolling for the ease
of doing business, there was need to streamline
the services offered by the State agencies
involved in investment promotion and trade
"We started to look at how long it takes to
set up a business, barriers to doing trade;
essentially Customs and Excise and the port
facilities. We attacked those indices with a
great deal of vigor, so much so, we were able
to remove a number of the impediments that
would allow us to start a business in three
days rather than 43 day," he said.
However, there can be no changes without
the right legislation in place.
Bharath said the Exchequer and Audit Act
has gone to the Parliament, "which allows the
Government to make payments to civil servants
and suppliers by direct debit into their account."
The Customs Act is another piece of leg-
islation "which allows for documentation to
be presented in advance, so when the vessel
arrives, you no longer have to go through the
tedious process of then, making an applica-
Regarding the port, the Single Electronic
Window is now being merged with the ASY-
CUDA system, Bharath said.
"A broker does not have to run to five dif-
ferent agencies physically to get documents
Bharath said the measures the Government
has introduced to make doing business a lot
easier will ensure the frustrations experienced
in the past would be eliminated.
He said more work needs to be done "to
make sure that having created that environ-
ment we are now accelerating the projects
that are coming to T&T."
Commenting on T&T s ranking in the Global
Competitive Index, he said: "obviously in the
short run, it may appear to be not so good,
but when one looks at the detail its been
reclassified as an innovative society as opposed
to being factor-driven or efficiency-driven.
We would have been judged on the criteria
for innovation, where, of course, we may not
have come up to speed because we have not
be classified in that manner before."
He added: "A lot of the numbers may not
be completely up-to-date, which means that
we may be a little ahead of where we have
"Thirdly, when one looks at what compet-
itiveness means, how the global competitive-
ness factors are measured, you will see that
it has very little reference to ease of doing
business and some of the things we have been
doing, so it is a little disappointing, but it is
not completely discouraging."
BG6 | NEWS
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt SEPTEMBER 2013 • WEEK TWO
Minister, business leaders:
legislation to ease
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