Lewis: “Need better business environment for real growth…”

Thursday, October 24, 2019 - 08:45

The TTMA's Ryan Lewis says it's becoming more difficult to do and get business done in Trinidad and Tobago, and government needs to work towards creating a more enabling environment.

According to Ryan Lewis, increased taxes are hurting businesses, and this is combined with the reality that government's business-related processes and procedures are not as efficient as they should be.

The TTMA head is urging government to start doing what is required to create the enabling environment business needs to reignite the T&T economy.

It has come up with a five step plan, to make that happen:

  1. Generate export growth
  2. Enhance labour and land resources
  3. Unlock new ways to build capacity, efficiency and expansion
  4. Widen access to finance for small and medium enterprises
  5. Strengthen administrative and institutional mechanisms

Ryan Lewis does admit that the local private sector has become somewhat complacent, and lost some of its competitive and innovative edge, and he has challenged them to do their part to revitalise the T&T economy.

But he's also arguing strongly for a true partnership between the private and public sector—with the private sector leading the charge—as has been the case in Jamaica.

“Their junior stock exchange has over 43 companies listed; ours has less than five,” he points out. “When any business in Jamaica wants to start-up and get listed or seed capital, there’s a ton of opportunity in Jamaica. They just did a wind farm, and people were lining up around the corner to invest. The regular man in the street,” he says, “was ready to invest in Jamaicans. Are we ready to do that in Trinidad? Are we ready to start being that type of country that invests in our people; invests in each other?”

Ryan Lewis points out that despite the many tax holidays created under successive government administrations, it's getting more expensive to do business in this country, even as it becomes more challenging to get business done.

He says that's why we're not seeing as much foreign direct investment as we used to.

“Corporation tax has gone from 25% to 30%,” he explains. “How are you supposed to reinvest funds in research and development and capital expenditure, if more is being taxed? Business levy and Green Fund Levy were both increased in the last three years.”

He adds: “You also have the VAT refunds not coming in on time, which is a cash flow issue. If you had to choose between Trinidad and Jamaica right now,” he asks, “where would you choose to invest your money?”


Story by NEWS DESK