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Modernising the state and public administration and improving governance

Thursday, June 13 2013

SMEs are said to be key drivers of economic growth and job creation. A significant portion of these businesses’ economic activity takes place in the formal sector, therefore excessive bureaucracy and regulation have to be minimised if we are to encourage them to transition to the informal sector. In 2012, the World Bank Group ranked this country at 68 out of 183 countries for ease of doing business - so why not make the processes simpler?

Research by the International Financial Corporation and the World Bank revealed that lower barriers to start-up are associated with a smaller informal sector; lower costs of entry can encourage entrepreneurship and reduce corruption and that simpler start-up can translate into greater employment opportunities.

Happily, some reforms and initiatives are in fact progressing and hopefully will lead to improvements in our rankings. With InvesTT being promoted as our lead investment promotion and facilitation agency, it is expected that the ambiguity surrounding the process for establishing a business will be eliminated. The Investor Sourcing and Facilitation Unit has been tasked with responsibility for leading activities in targeting, attracting and securing local, regional and international direct investment to TT. Providing start-up assistance and solutions to investment inquiries and proposals for establishing or expanding a business in TT are just some of the ways in which their team plans to assist investors.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Investment, via the TTBizLink, has set out to improve the processes and reduce the bureaucracy associated with the way business is done.

The Chamber also congratulates the Ministry, as TT secured first place in the UN Public Service Competition 2013 where the TTBizLink was submitted in the category “Promoting Whole-of Government approaches in the Information Age”. As a key user of the TTBizLink as an approving agency for Certificates of Origin, we were pleased to have written a recommendation for the Ministry in this regard.

To improve the system even further, we look forward to the interface between the Automated System for Customs Data – or - ASYCUDA and the TTBizLink system. The turnaround time for import and export consignments is crucial to businesses and consumers. ASYCUDA is meant to simplify Customs clearance procedures and reduce the number of documents required for imports and exports.

To facilitate a seamless system with the TTBizLink platform, we are awaiting amendment to the Customs Act which will enhance border control and provide for the electronic submission in advance of the Cargo Manifest and Passenger Information System. Additionally, we look forward to legislative amendments to the ExChequer and Audit Act to facilitate electronic payments. These electronic systems would also facilitate easier data collection and reporting to influence policy making.

Data collection and reporting have become crucial aspects of a country’s governance and transparency. The recently released Resource Governance Index from the Revenue Watch Institute measures the quality of governance in the oil, gas and mining sector. TT ranked at ten out of 58 countries. This can be used as an encouraging factor, given that TT is working towards attaining “Compliant Country Status” by end of August, 2013 while our first Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Report is due by June 2013.

If we are to continue attracting investors as we pursue diversification, we have to create an investment-friendly climate with a clearly stated policy for development and public trust. Strengthening our rankings and global perception as a desirable place to do business might be a good place to start.

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