Stuart Franco Elected For Second Term As
President of AMCHAM T&T


T he American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago (AMCHAM T&T) re-elected Stuart Franco, CEO of The TSL Group, to another term as President of the Chamber at its 31st Annual General Meeting (AGM) on June 7, 2024, at the Hilton Trinidad & Conference Centre.

In accepting his appointment at the Business Forum of AMCHAM T&T’s AGM, Franco said he looked forward to working with the organisation’s 300+ members before offering his gratitude and appreciation for their support. “I would like to begin by thanking all our members for the support you have given me over the past year,” Franco said. “I also want to express my sincere gratitude to the Board of AMCHAM T&T for their continued faith and confidence in me as I begin my second term as President of this esteemed chamber.”

Speaking on the Theme “Opportunities In Adversity”, Franco said he wanted to speak frankly about the reality of T&T’s current situation while laying the groundwork for leaders to find increased opportunities for economic growth despite the hardships they were facing. 

“I strongly believe that the private sector will always have a role to play in leading our country to harmony and prosperity,” Franco said. “That role is not one we can play alone. AMCHAM T&T has said many times before, we—the business community—can only play that role effectively through collaboration.”

Franco said the business community would be willing to assist in fighting crime which has been out of control for some time now. “When murders are being committed in twos, threes, fours, in hospitals, in housing developments, and on our roadways, crime is out of control. At the risk of being obvious, that is a huge problem.”

“I want to repeat, and I suspect I speak for most if not all of you when I say—again—that the business community is willing to assist. We want to assist. All we have to do is be engaged and told what the broad plan is and how our help will fit into this plan.”

He also called on leaders to put aside their differences since fighting crime was the responsibility of the government. “If crime can be solved by the state alone, then great. To date, we have not seen evidence that this is possible,” Franco said. “It is time that we put aside our differences and work together with a common goal of putting our beautiful nation first.”

While AMCHAM T&T has long advocated for widening the tax net and supports the establishment of the T&T Revenue Authority, Franco said the TTRA was not strictly necessary to achieve this objective. “I said the points are tied. AMCHAM T&T has always advocated for the aggressive detection and prosecution of white-collar crime.”

“All citizens and businesses should pay their fair share of taxes as determined by the law,” said he added. “On the flip side, the state has an obligation to ensure that credits and refunds are properly assessed and repaid in a timely fashion as prescribed by the law.”

Franco said anyone who did not pay taxes and refused to settle their obligations with the BIR should be prosecuted, however, there should be adequate processes and opportunities for these to be settled. “Of critical importance, however, is the integrity of the tax collection entity. Therefore, every taxpayer’s information must, by law, be kept confidential. To do otherwise is to undermine trust in the system.”

Addressing the theme of finding “Opportunities In Adversity”, Franco said technology could help with both revenue collection and trade facilitation to improve the issues at customs. “We know it can also assist with strengthening border security. We still, therefore, call for full implementation of the systems that would allow for paperless clearance of goods, an effective risk management system with traceability, a trusted trader programme, and the introduction of legislation to allow for de minimis values to be determined and implemented.”

Also, the AMCHAM T&T President said his organisation would be doubling down on both technology as a service or tool and as an industry for future growth, which remained one of the country’s biggest, yet largely untapped, opportunities. “It’s going to take some time, but the private and public sectors both have to continue to innovate and lead with digital transformation in every aspect of their operations.”

To this point, AMCHAM T&T would be hosting the 6th Edition of the Tech Hub Islands Summit (THIS) Conference with the theme Breakthrough on July 1–2 at the Hyatt Regency. “This theme underscores the importance of breaking through limitations, embracing bold ideas, forging new paths to shape the future of technology, redefining what's possible, and leading the charge toward a future where technology knows no bounds,” Franco said. “I hope you join us for that and continue investing in your company’s digital future.”

In closing, the AMCHAM T&T President said his organisation remained committed to these priorities and many more. “We will continue to advocate for policies that benefit our members, promote trade and investment, enhance security, and support sustainable business practices. Together, we will build on our achievements and strive for even greater success in the coming year.”