With days away from the 2024 budget to be presented by Finance Minister Colm Imbert, the services sector says the path towards economic diversification for T&T must include the active involvement of this industry.
The T&T Coalition of Services Industries (TTCSI) presented its budget recommendations, which it believes will lay the foundation for growth of the industry specifically the development of export-led strategies.
These initiatives were categorised as:
• Measures to stimulate growth of the services sector;
• Measures to protect the vulnerable;
• Measures for improved regulations and standards; and
• Support for firms impacted by COVID-19
Regarding measures to stimulate growth of the sector, the TTCSI noted that in September 2021, it launched this country’s first National Go Global TT Services initiative which comprised five core projects.
The business support organisation described the initiative as a game changer for the economy, reiterating that there is need for continuous support to realise these full benefits.
It is for these reasons that the TTCSI said it is seeking financial support to continue the projects until fiscal 2025.
The projects are a biannual national services exporters survey; the national services exporters portal; the gateway to trade export accelerator project; the services go global training programme and the annual Caribbean Lawrence Placide award.
On improving of the green building sector, the TTCSI is advising that action be taken to foster green building practices.
It outlined that this should include concessions and tax breaks for importing green-building products and services; tax rebates to green-building owners and green-building developers to encourage more activity and make it more feasible for them to engage in the area and reduce import duties on certified and sustainable material for doing green buildings.
The TTCSI also noted there is a great potential for countries to achieve their net zero energy goals by using green buildings which can result in 50 per cent energy savings, according to an UNDP report.
The creative sector is also an instrumental part of the services sector.
To bolster it, the TTCSI wants a policy to ensure and encourage participation in international music expos and business forums.
It explained that such participation should not be limited to performances by a few artistes chosen, explaining that there must be the involvement of music business managers, agencies, publicists, producers and administrators as with any other trade mission.
There is also a call to establish a national museum for calypso music history as an active part in the National Museum for the Carnival Arts and Industry.
The TTCSI also advised there be a Carnival theme park to stimulate active tourism and generate year-round employment for artistes and artisans in the creative sector.
Other recommendations to further propel the creative sector include an increase in the grant subvention for film-makers to at least $3 million; commit $3 million to creating a T&T Anthology Animated Series for Netflix or other streaming platforms; continue to fastrack the seamstress and tailor training to facilitate local designers as well as the production of design lines; establish monthly craftmarts in public venues for local craftsmen and micro-entrepreneurs and ratify the land tenure of all pan yards on State land as per the Cabinet Note to that effect circa 2012, among others.
Improving the animation and game development sectors was also recommended by the TTCSI.
Local animation continues to make strides as the TTCSI noted that its member, Animae Caribe Festival, recently represented the industry at Annecy Film Festival in France, as it celebrated the 46th edition of this international animation film festival which took place from June 13 to 18, as well as the KIDSCREEN Summit in Miami from July 17 to 21.
In crafting the way forward for the animation and game industry the TTCSI said a hub for animation jobs ought to be created.
“With the growth of the animation sector, a plethora of job opportunities will open up. Depending upon whether the job is entry-level or senior-level, the salary of the job will vary but still it will be lucrative. Interestingly, most of the people working in the animation sector are self-employed.
An animation job can be divided into development, pre-production, production, post-production, and sales and marketing,” the TTCSI explained.
According to the TTCSI, the yachting industry needs more land in the Chaguaramas area (limited to only 2.2 square miles at present) for expansion and growth sustainability.
There is also need to introduce the much-needed single harmonised form for hugely simplified entry and departure of yachts to/from T&T as in Grenada, St Vincent, Antigua, Guyana, St Lucia, St Kitts, St Maarten and in every other Caribbean island.
The YSATT is also calling for more advertising aid from the Ministry of Tourism noting that it office is also a tourist information centre.
The TTCSI is proposing that the Couva Tabaquite Talparo region be developed and designated as a Green Zone.
The goal is to develop a business environment that is conducive to entrepreneurship and innovation.
The TTCSI noted that the region where the Point Lisas Industrial Estate is located consists of some of the most diverse features, - natural beauty (six beaches, unique ecosystems, bird watching), national sporting facilities (National Cricket Centre, Aquatic Centre and Cycling Velodrome), and historical sites (Sugar Heritage Village, Temple in the Sea, Caribbean Indian Museum).
This makes it an ideal site for creating a sustainable Green Zone in line with COP 27 initiatives, the TTCSI added.
“This project provides a meaningful and valuable opportunity to impact the lives of the communities in this region and T&T generally. Greening the zone would provide a structured and monitored approach to regulate proper waste disposal and management, recycling, and energy efficiency among companies of the Point Lisas Industrial Estate.
“Apart from these industrial companies, there are numerous MSMEs (approximately 2,015) and skilled individual professionals from repair shops to standalone technicians, whose business models can promote and regulate recycling, repairing and re-using initiatives,” the TTCSI further explained.
It also noted that the quality of national goods and services will conform to international standards, ensuring high quality and raising productivity standards which constitute two of the most important prerequisites for increasing the competitiveness of local businesses.
The TTCSI has also suggested measures to protect vulnerable members of society. These include establishing childcare centres at ministries and other State enterprises which will provide support for working parents especially single mothers. Safe houses for victims of domestic violence abuse should also be established as the TTCSI noted there has been an increase in the number of reported domestic violence cases in the last two years.
Other suggestions include offering free internet services and IT education for all senior citizens to facilitate their banking and payment of bills.
The TTCSI assists in the development of standards and certification to facilitate access into foreign markets.
For improved regulations and standards the TTCSI has recommended developing pest management industry standards (Code of Practice) and regulations.
“Legislation that would ensure proportional representation for the relative industries on advisory boards and drafting committees,” the TTCSI explained.
It is also calling for full implementation of the Procurement Legislation and Regulations with no reporting or investigative exceptions as well as the use of licensed professionals from associations to conduct business throughout the Government sector.