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AmCham to Govt: Improve ease of doing business

The trinidad Guardian / Customer service at all government offices must be improved, along with flexible working hours and regulated lunch breaks.

These are some of the wishes rounding out the American Chamber of T&T’s (AmChamTT) budget submissions for 2017/2018 under the area of Ease of Doing Business.

While the Chamber acknowledges the challenges that continue to affect the business environment, they are convinced that once these issues are resolved it would redound to the benefit of the country and the economy.

Claiming that government bureaucracy continues to be one of the most problematic issues facing businesses in T&T, AmCham TT said the challenges ranged from issues of investment to venture capital and most notably, taxation.

AmCham TT said, “With technological improvements and the need for greater productivity, this ought not remain the status quo.”

Focusing on the lack of foreign exchange within the last few months which led to some businesses having to close their doors, AmCham TT urged government to address the issue.

Other recommendations included re-establishing the Business and Labour Advisory Committee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; developing a comprehensive migration policy without over-burdening social services; revamping the venture capital regime; developing a capital allowance regime for the recognition, write off and disposal of intangible assets and Intellectual Property in general; prioritizing the Central Statistical Office and its resource requirements; and reducing shareholding thresholds for Loss Relief provisions.

Under the banner of taxation, AmCham TT called for improvements in the effectiveness and efficiency of tax administration including the timely settlement of VAT refunds as well as the automatic application of refunds; implementation of an effective transfer pricing regime but only after stakeholder consultation; introduction of a procedure for Advanced Tax Ruling System; Alternative Dispute Resolution of Tax Disputes; involvement of stakeholders in the re-introduction of the property tax, particularly on industrial property; removal of the two per cent management charge restriction for non-T&T unrelated parties; expansion of the Double Taxation Treaty network and the establishment of a committee to address Double Taxation Treaty issues; and improving the enforcement mechanism to reduce “illegal” cigarettes on the market and a revised taxation scheme throughout the cigarette industry.

With a number of illegal cigarettes being smuggled into T&T, the lack of enforcement has had a significant negative impact on legitimate players in the industry and by extension on government revenues from tobacco excise taxes.

AmCham TT said, “Taking note of global trends, profits generated from these black market products have been said to contribute to terrorist financing and other illicit activities.”

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