The TT dollar seems overvalued and the exchange-rate must be managed, said the Chamber of Industry and Commerce on Tuesday in a statement titled, ‘National Budget Recommendations 2017/2018.’
The Chamber called for more dynamic management of the exchange rate in tandem with an inflation goal. At present, the release said, the current exchange rate appears to be overvalued and unsustainable. This in no way fosters diversification of the economy and competitiveness in the export of goods and services.
The statement urged that an annual National Budget must be part of a broader multi-year strategy. Having recently met Finance Minister Colm Imbert, the chamber gave its views on both income and expenditure. On the former, they urged more national efficiency and more incentives for business (in innovation and exports.).
“For our domestic goods and services to become more competitive, there must be an increase in national efficiency. Therefore, we need to implement clear strategies to encourage productivity and efficiency through management of make-work programmes and over employment by the public sector.”
The chamber urged a new TT Revenue Authority to widen its tax net rather than applying higher taxes to those already compliant. The statement also urged tax incentives for business start-ups and for the export of goods and services, the latter to be funded by extra foreign exchange earnings from the prior year.
They urged economic diversification by incentivising sectors such as manufacturing, agro-processing and tourism. Regarding expenditure, the chamber wanted a far more critical review of value-for-money and accountability in government spending. “For the past two years, National Security has received the largest budgetary allocation while we remain uncertain about whether the country has derived the best return on its investment.”
The chamber said we must prioritize dealing with crime by effective legislation, full support of the Judiciary, enabling the Police Service Commission, and having a permanent Commissioner of Police.