ACTING Prime Minister Colm Imbert has hinted that TT may be experiencing an economic recovery after several years of negative growth.
Speaking with reporters after the launch of the Customs and Excise container scanner at the Port of Point Lisas yesterday, Imbert, who is also Finance Minister, said details of the economic turnaround would be revealed when he delivers the mid-year review in early May.
However, he said the Finance Ministry was working to achieve a growth rate of between one and two per cent, as was also being projected by the International Monetary Fund.
Asked about the increase in fines for the non-filing of valuation return forms (from $500 to $5,000), he said this would only come into effect when the amendments to the land valuation legislation were adopted into law.
“There is no requirement at this point in time arising from the court ruling for any mandatory filing of forms and therefore no penalty can apply. That is in the future when the law is fully operational. So that is not now.”
During his address, Imbert said violent crime, fuelled by illegal narcotics and weapons “has had a deleterious effect on TT” and noted that the mobile scanning technology would be focused on “combating the importation of all contraband, specifically narcotics, illegal firearms and ammunition.”
He said some of the benefits of the mobile container scanners include border protection and security, the detection of weapons and hazardous materials and curbing the flow of illegal drugs and guns. On the revenue-collection side, he said, the scanners would be able to verify cargo manifests to mitigate duty and tax fraud; detect undeclared cargo for the collection of duties trade facilitation; easier inspection and faster delivery times, as verification of the contents of containers can be more easily done, and a reduction of the manpower requirement in determining the contents of containers.
“The deployment of this innovative technology in TT is a reflection of the long-standing, well-established and forward-moving partnership between the US Customs and Border Protection, Office of International Affairs and the Government of the Republic of TT,” he said.
“In this regard, the donation of four mobile vehicle and cargo inspection systems from the US Government to the TT government contributes to the Customs modernisation initiative. It places in the hands of Customs officials a valuable tool to enhance efficiency in cargo inspection.”