“Fanfare, pomp and circumstance,” said the operatic tenor John Thomas in a recent press release.
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New focus on ease of doing business
The Ministry of Trade and Industry is coordinating with several ministries and government agencies to implement a robust package of administrative and legislative reforms, aimed at improving the ease of doing business in T&T.
In a statement, the Ministry of Trade said it is being guided by the World Bank’s Doing Business Report and that the government is acutely aware that an enabling and competitive business environment is fundamental for attracting and maintaining domestic and foreign investment.
These reforms, which will be implemented by various ministries in the short- and medium-term, commenced in April 2017 and will span some 44 months.
• Trading across borders
The fixed-container scanner at the port of Port-of-Spain will be operationalised. This will have an immediate and significant effect on the private sector and consumers by considerably reducing the time and cost of importing and exporting goods.
• Paying taxes
Capacity building activities will be conducted for the Inland Revenue Division (IRD) with the aim of:
(i) improving taxpayer services which include the launch of electronic services offered by the IRD; and
(ii) improving the efficiency of processing tax returns and tax payments.
• Starting a business
The processes to start a business will be re-engineered by, inter alia:
(i) conducting public education initiatives regarding the processes involved in starting a business to minimise application/registration errors; and
(ii) undertaking ICT improvements to remedy any existing defects within the online registration process.
• Dealing with construction permits
An automated system for construction permitting will be developed and implemented to reduce the administrative burden for obtaining a construction permit. This system would allow for the:
(i) electronic submission of applications and supporting documents;
(ii) communication with and notification of applicants via email or SMS; and
(iii) processing and shared decision-making across multiple agencies.
The construction permit system will seamlessly integrate with existing systems, including the Government’s Single Electronic Window for Trade and Business Facilitation-TTBizLink.
1. Getting credit
A Secured Transaction and Collateral Registry System will be developed and implemented. This system is a legislative and institutional framework designed to facilitate the use of movable property-intellectual property, agricultural products, accounts receivables, machinery and equipment-as collateral.
This system will provide small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with increased access to finance, which will improve their productivity levels and growth. A policy that will guide the development and implementation of this system is being developed.
• Resolving insolvency
In an effort to improve the regulatory framework for insolvency, work is in train to:
(i) create a unified legislative framework by harmonising the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act with other relevant legislation, including the Companies Act; and
(ii) fully operationalise the Office of the Supervisor of Insolvency, which will create an improved level of supervision for insolvency practitioners.
• Electronic payments
An electronic funds transfer system will be developed, which will:
(i) allow the Government to make and receive electronic payments;
(ii) provide the public with more efficient and convenient options for transacting with the Government; and
(iii) provide a safe and secure Electronic Funds Transfer environment for consumers to transact business with Government agencies.
• Trading across borders
The interoperability of TTBizLink with all other trade-related agencies will be improved. This will facilitate the seamless exchange of data between TTBizLink and key stakeholders such as the Port Authority of T&T, the Customs and Excise Division, the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries, the Ministry of Health, as well T&T’s trading partners. This seamless exchange will allow for a reduction in the processing times of several documents required for trade.