CEO of the T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Gabriel Faria has called on the Government to pay billions of dollars it owes to the business community in the upcoming budget.
Speaking yesterday on CNC3’s the Morning Brew, Faria said: “One of
the things we’ve been going to bed and praying for every night, is that the finance minister takes action on overdue VAT refunds.”
He continued: “When I listen to the business community, the one thing we are hoping for, is that he will put that into place in this budget.”
Faria said that he is confident that Finance Minister Colm Imbert will do something because the unpaid VAT refunds are having “a debilitating impact on businesses.”
Faria noted that it is hindering businesses as it related to investment decisions, exports and it is also “tying up a lot of cash.”
“I would think that’s my number one wish”, said Faria.
Additionally, Faria noted that the Government is still focused on generating revenue from the economy as opposed to creating an environment where the private sector can produce income.
He said that the public-private partnership model needs to be embraced to have a thriving environment where the government and business complement each other.
Faria added that Jamaica is an example of this type of relationship.
Faria said that he hoped the Government creates an environment where businesses don’t have to worry about bureaucratic issues but will be able to earn foreign exchange.
Meanwhile, Chairman-elect Wade George, Ernst and Young Caribbean admitted that he does not believe that the problem of foreign change will be solved without difficulty as it is a structural problem.
“I’m not sure that that problem will be solved that easily unless we look at the underlying causes, which would be the shortage of foreign currency in the system as a result of the contraction in the energy sector,” said George.
He added that the forex situation will continue to constrain unless there is a structural change. In the past, George said the government had intervened in the economy, in places where it did not fit.
George added that now, “because revenues are shrinking, there’s a real opportunity for the government to divest state assets.”
George noted that if it is done through a competitive and transparent process, it would generate revenue for the government. He said that it would also allow for the private sector to create new services for T&T and in turn bring additional jobs and revenue to the country.
He said that this is an opportunity in T&T that, neighbouring states do not have.