AMCHAM T&T's Budget Recommendations 



R ecent economic activity in Trinidad and Tobago has shown signs of recovery due to high global energy prices and the rebound in the non-energy sector in 2023, which augurs well for the country’s economic prospects in the immediate future. However, in its 2023-2024 National Budget Recommendations submitted to the Ministry of Finance in August 2023, AMCHAM T&T stated that systemic issues such as rising crime, foreign exchange shortage, supply chain bottlenecks and food insecurity continue to threaten the nation's economic stability, the rate of recovery and the standard of living our citizenry enjoys.

“Our economic policymaking at this time must take an approach that underscores a mixture of proposals to address debt sustainability, economic diversification to boost the non-energy sectors, the effectiveness of tax collections, and incentives for foreign direct investments across all sectors.”

Against this backdrop, AMCHAM T&T’s 2023-2024 budget recommendations propose measures to rebuild and stabilise the economy, increase the country’s resilience, enhance social development and strengthen the business environment to improve the overall quality of life for every citizen through policy recommendations in five (5) thematic areas. These are:

•       Digital Transformation

•       Ease of Doing Business

•       National Security

•       Energy Sector

•       Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG)



While AMCHAM T&T applauds the work being done by the Government to develop a National Digital Transformation Strategy, the report outlined the following recommendations to help ensure the successful and effective implementation of this strategy:

1)     The creation and implementation of an ICT skills development and education policy that enables global ICT competitiveness in select sub-sectors. AMCHAM T&T says these programmes should span primary schools, secondary schools, tertiary level institutions and workplaces, where private sector organisations like AMCHAM T&T and universities can be engaged to develop programmes to quickly develop the critical mass of designers, coders and analysts required.

2)     A unified and coordinated approach to the completion and adoption of the following policies and the establishment of any new ones required should be incorporated:

  • GORTT Asset Management 
  • Open Government Policy
  • Cloud Computing (Cloud options for WoG)
  • e-Government Omnibus Technical Standards (e-GOTS)
  • e-Government Interoperability Framework (e-GIF)
  • ISO/IEC 27000 series
  • Open Source Policy

3)     Establish and operationalise a data interoperability framework to allow for greater participation from the private sector in developing solutions to support citizen service delivery and accelerate the Government’s digital transformation agenda.

4)     Design a comprehensive change management strategy and communications plan for engaging stakeholder groups within and outside the Government that may be affected by the implementation of e-services. The report says this will include an inclusive, gender-informed communications plan to address the need to communicate with people affected by the process, system and structural changes created by the implementation.

5)     Implement a National Unique Identifier and Legal Digital Identity. While AMCHAM T&T acknowledges that this was announced in the 2022 National Budget, and work is ongoing in the development of the framework for its implementation, the Chamber recommends the Government take advantage of the digital transformation occurring in different divisions of the public sector to begin the implementation of the e-ID.

6)     Develop a National Cyber Security Strategy to better secure data and prevent unauthorised access. To achieve this, AMCHAM T&T recommends implementing the amendments made by the private sector to the cybercrime bill; updating the cyber security policy to govern how data is collected, used, stored and secured; and building capacity through training for persons implementing, using and being affected by the policy.

7)     Implement a Digital Nomad Visa - With the wide range of technologies available for remote work and the COVID-19 pandemic providing proof of concept for remote work, AMCHAM T&T would like to see Trinidad and Tobago embark on implementing Digital Nomad Visas to allow foreign nationals to live and work in the country. This system would allow said persons to contribute to the economy through their expenditure on rentals, living and work accommodations, food and social activities during their stay.



In dealing with the ease of doing business, AMCHAM T&T believes the express parcel industry is an important component of the country’s competitiveness. Therefore, the Chamber says it is critical that Customs immediately implement and use the risk assessment module of ASYCUDA and re-implement the 2011 procedure of clearing commercial shipments valued at TT$20,000 or below without an entry.

AMCHAM T&T would also like to see the Trinidad and Tobago Revenue Authority be charged with Customs reform and focus on the following as key performance indicators:

1.      Improve the security of the border through collaborative intelligence and risk management, for example the Modernisation of Non-intrusive Inspections or Improve risk assessment/Reduce the need for physical inspection by customs.

2.      Optimise revenue collection through modernised technology and best practice standards.

3.      Improve trade facilitation by streamlining customs procedures in accordance with international standards including the Harmonised System Implementation 2022.

4.      Improve the professionalism and well-being of staff.

5.      Increase automation and digitalisation for effective and efficient customs supervision.

Other measures proposed to ensure the ease of doing business at Customs include setting a de minimus value of US$400 to ensure a much more efficient system to increase the collection of much-needed revenue; replacing Online Purchase Tax (OPT) with the implementation of a flat $40 fee; fully automating the Customs process and functionally integrating with TTBizLink; and revamping Customs hours and redesigning locations to increase the efficiency at the Piarco International Airport and the sea ports.



Other cross-cutting Ease of Doing Business issues addressed in the report were:

  • Develop a comprehensive migration policy with a view to meeting the needs of increased development without over-burdening social services.
  • Support R&D in private companies through the allowance of a write-off of 75% of the working capital used to support innovation against chargeable income tax, up to a limit of 2% of a company’s annual revenue in the prior year.
  • Implement a procedure for an Advanced Tax Ruling System.
  • Implement the Special Economic Zone legislation, inclusive of the development of the appropriate regulations, taking into consideration private sector input to ensure practicality by October 2023.
  • Address the VAT Refund System. 

While AMCHAM T&T acknowledges the efforts being made to pay off some of the outstanding VAT refunds, the Chamber is of the view that the current system does not allow for the timely settlement of VAT refunds. AMCHAM T&T recommends the Government use a separate system from income and corporation taxes to ensure that funds are available from the VAT collected to issue VAT refunds. Also, AMCHAM T&T is advising the Board of Inland Revenue to send notices indicating when taxes are outstanding on its system and provide sufficient time for taxpayers to respond with a view to considering the response of the taxpayer to allow for the easy cash flow of businesses.



AMCHAM T&T continues to be concerned about the crime situation and its significant and growing negative impact on the business activities of its member companies and the lives of citizens of Trinidad and Tobago. The report says addressing the issue of crime must be a priority of the Government and recommends the following initiatives:

1.      Ensuring the Police Service Commission set targets for the Commissioner of Police that are rigorously measured and reported on every quarter.

2.      Achieve state-of-the-art DNA testing on a routine basis, update equipment at the Forensic Science Centre and develop higher qualified staff.

3.      A proper maintenance plan for all equipment used for crime detection and enforcement – Motor Vehicles – CCTV Systems – Speed Guns – Breathier Equipment – digital fingerprint systems.

4.      Digital Transformation of the Homicide Bureau of Investigations and the TTPS.

5.      Invest more in Community Policing.

6.      Strengthen the Judiciary by setting targets and publishing data around the turnaround time for cases to be heard, reducing the gap between arrest and sentencing, digitisation of case files with the option to transfer cases from one Justice to another in the event of death, retirement etc.

In managing white-collar crime, the report says it would be beneficial if a national policy is created and implemented for both public and private sector organisations to adopt for whistleblowing. Additionally, other measures include greater training for joint collaboration with the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and the Judicial system to adopt international best practices or best practices in the interest of the national community. AMCHAM T&T also recommends appointing a substantive director of the FIU and ensuring adequate resourcing of the Unit; strengthening the Fraud Squad through the provision of training and resources to improve the detection rate; and addressing resourcing deficiencies of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.



AMCHAM T&T recommends a comprehensive energy sector strategy that addresses measures to maximise productivity and profitability and promotes the transition to renewable and energy-efficient practices. Some of the policy recommendations entail measures to accelerate the development of on- and offshore oil resources in the shortest possible time frame; increase exploration and development work in shallow water maturing gas fields; grant incentives to increase exploration in deep water; and implement measures to support and promote energy services as an export product.

AMCHAM T&T is also proposing recommendations to position T&T to be well placed in the energy transition by incentivising existing operators in the upstream and downstream to make investments required to reduce emissions with a view to creating less carbon-intensive energy exports. Additionally, AMCHAM T&T is supporting further development and investment in hydrogen; the development of EV charging networks across the islands; incentivising investment in energy efficiency, e.g., reduction or removal of taxes on LED bulbs; and establishing a regionally recognised carbon pricing/trading scheme to incentivise investment in low carbon opportunities, inter alia.



A big feature of AMCHAM T&T’s 2023-2024 Budget Recommendations has to do with Environment, Social, Governance (ESG) measures. The report says ESG is a growing movement that would force companies, industries and Governments to seek more sustainable ways to create economic value by taking into account not only profit but also people and planet.

AMCHAM T&T believes this can be accomplished through various tax incentives with proper implementation and monitoring guidelines to supplement its value and success. Therefore, the Chamber is asking the Government to consider allocating a budget to begin developing a framework that systematically evaluates and integrates ESG factors into the formulation of national budget recommendations as part of a wider commitment to ESG engagement in the public sector. The report says this framework will serve as a guideline for government agencies and decision-makers to prioritise investments and allocate resources toward sustainable development, social inclusivity and effective governance.

“By embracing this proposal, AMCHAM T&T believes the government will demonstrate its commitment to addressing environmental challenges, promoting social equity, and strengthening governance practices.”



AMCHAM T&T’s 2023–2024 National Budget Recommendations were submitted to the Ministry of Finance in August 2023. The 27-page report outlines the major policy actions that AMCHAM T&T believes will increase T&T’s resilience, attract local and foreign capital to rebuild and stabilise the economy, enhance social development and strengthen the business environment to improve the overall quality of life for every citizen.

In light of this, AMCHAM T&T says it is committed to collaborating and working with the Government of Trinidad and Tobago on these initiatives which are outlined to have clear objectives to ensure the quality of life and social harmony remain prerequisites to building a more attractive business environment and sustaining long-term economic development.


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