Special Economic Zones Bill 2021 passed

Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon
Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon

The House of Representatives unanimously passed the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Bill, 2021, in Parliament on Wednesday.

The bill provides for the designation, development, operation and management of special economic zones, establishes an SEZ Authority of 11 members and repeals the Free Zone Act Chap. 81:07, and deals with tax relief, operations of a free zone, licences and matters related thereto.

Businesses that apply and receive SEZ operator's licences from the authority will be subject to
regulations that comply with foreign direct investment's global tax standards.

Government says counterfeiting and money laundering can be virtually eliminated in an SEZ.

Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon said the bill is critical, transformative and will serve this nation well, as she made her final comments before the votes were cast.

The bill invites investment opportunities for the country, creates new jobs in 11 sectors and paves a path for sustained economic growth for all businesses to thrive, Gopee-Scoon said.

"I give the population the assurance that we are on this and we understand the benefit of it. This is for TT, a modern investment destination not only for big business, for small businesses as well. Not only for the urban areas but the rural areas as well."

She said the bill was a modern regulatory framework for a dynamic and attractive SEZ regime in TT which will allow the country to compete effectively with other jurisdictions for investment.

In his contribution to the debate, Minister of Finance Colm Imbert said regulate activities within the economic zones so that TT will "be compliant with the new world order which is intense scrutiny on criminal activity, money laundering, terrorist financing that has crept into the free trade system over the last 30 years."

"The EU (European Union) and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) along with the WTO (World Trade Organisation) and other organisations in the world that look at trade, at the criminal activity as it relates to trade and unfair practices, are now demanding that countries harmonise their systems to create a far more robust and a proper oversight so that all of these harmful practices can be eliminated. This bill tends to do just that."

Even though all members of the opposition voted in favour of the bill, they didn't share the same views.

Pointe-a-Pierre MP David Lee felt the bill would not satisfy what was required to stimulate the economy.

"This bill is just ink on paper. It sounds good, it reads good, but I don't know if it would really make a difference in generating foreign direct investment, in generating new players to access this SEZ."

Barataria/San Juan MP Saddam Hosein said the bill only addressed one of 14 criteria the EU and OECD had given to each jurisdiction.


"Special Economic Zones Bill 2021 passed"

More in this section