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Howai: online sales will threaten retail sector
The effects of online sales will begin to pose serious competition to T&T’s retail sector in years ahead, Finance Minister LArry Howai warned yesterday.
Howai sounded the warning while piloting a bill in the House of Representatives to provide for variation of certain duties and taxes arising from the 2012- 2013 budget provisions.
Howai said the retail sector had shown robust growth at the end of last year due mainly to Christmas sales.
But he added: “We have to be wary of the impact of globalisation as the effect of online purchases will begin to pose serious competition to this sector in years to come,”
Howai also said government would bring legislation for establishment of a gaming authority to regulate the gaming sector. He said this should have been on stream long ago.
He said it would take about three years to implement legislation. The first laws will be completed and passed in the next 18 months or so and arrangements to bring it into effect may take tabout a year after that. In the interim, he added, government would try to increase revenue from the sector.
On aspects of the economy since the budget presentation, Howai said unemployment remained reasonably controlled at just over five per cent. He said inflation had begun to show signs of moderating.
Howai said financial and economic buffers remained strong, foreign exchange earnings continued to grow and the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund closed the last year at US$4.7b.
The minister said T&T’s ratings with Standard and Poors and Moody’s remained at A and BW1 respectively—a stable outlook.
Howai however said the entire takeover of Clico was badly handled and had compromised government’s ability to recover the $19b pumped into Clico. He said failure to regulate the group cost T&T dearly and the country would never be able to recover the funds put into the group.
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