SCANNERS, e-payment and forex access as promised in budget 2024 will help local manufacturers, Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers Association (TTMA) head Roger Roach said in a statement on Monday, after the presentation by Finance Minister Colm Imbert.
Roach welcomed Imbert's statement, saying growth was now being driven in a much more balanced manner by the energy and non-energy sector.
"The minister detailed, led by the non-energy manufacturing sector, in 2022 the country experienced 1.5 per cent growth, but this is expected to increase to three per cent in 2023, and again would be led by the robust non-energy manufacturing base of the country. Similar trends are anticipated in 2024 and 2025."
Roach said global external forces which affect manufacturers have stabilised, but monitoring was still needed on how factors within TT affect business.
"It is therefore important that Government continues working with the private sector to ensure the ease-of-doing-business indicators are improved and allow for the enabling environment for business to sustain and grow in the competitive global environment in which they are asked to compete.”
The TTMA welcomed the announcement of the long-awaited Statistical Institute, to ground policy and prediction based on trends.
Roach said manufacturers remained committed to export, to earn foreign exchange (forex) for the country.
“TTMA also welcomes the government’s move to maintain and expand the forex framework at the Exim Bank and at the same time, implement the SME foreign-exchange facility which is anticipated to reduce the use of credit-card usage by small businesses." He welcomed the initiative within six months.
"The proposed building on additional industry parks in various areas such as Central and along the East-West Corridor would go a long way in the diversification and promotion of the non-energy manufacturing companies in the country.”
Noting Imbert's remarks on improving the ease of doing business, Roach said, “TTMA welcomes the approval of four e-money issuers and the expansion of the single electronic window. The digitalisation of government services for online payment to an additional 14 government services and collection of taxes are all commendable initiatives."
Roach lamented that manufacturers have experienced abnormally long customs delays with a two-three week customs appointment time at some bonds and transit sheds to examine cargo, all having a significant negative impact on trade and manufacturing.
"The purchase of 16 hand-held and four large fixed inspection scanners will speed up the inspection of items at the port and movement of goods on the ports."
The TTMA hoped these additional scanners would reduce the rent and demurrage charges manufacturers incur at present.
Roach welcomed Imbert's proposal to exempt manufacturing companies which are exporting and fall within the 30 per cent tax bracket from the business levy.
He was content with $1.44 billion incentives for the agricultural sector.
"This will drive the diversification thrust and assist in decreasing the food import bill of $5 billion per annum."
The association asked consumers to be careful in their purchasing choices, "understanding the effect that those choices have on the already strained foreign exchange system.”
Imbert was due to participate in the TTMA's post-budget event on Tuesday at the Hyatt Regency, Port of Spain.