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Allyson West Minister of Public Administration and Digital Transformation.

The American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago (AMCHAM T&T) says that it is somewhat worried that the revenue figure announced by Finance Minister Colm Imbert for the budget may be “overly ambitious.”

During yesterday’s budget presentation Imbert said that “total revenue has been budgeted at $41.364 billion, up from $34.059 billion or $7.304 billion from the estimated revised outturn in 2020.”

“While we are optimistic about what we heard in the budget presentation, AMCHAM T&T is concerned about the Minister’s revenue projections given that we only managed to raise $32.5 billion in fiscal 2020 and we are still being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” it stated in a release last night in response to Imbert’s presentation.

“Admittedly, without access to all of the information that the Minister used to calculate his revenue projection, we are somewhat worried that this target is overly ambitious and may force the government to undertake further borrowing or mid-year cuts that could undermine the attempts at modernisation,” it stated.

AMCHAM T&T said overall, it is optimistic that the budget statement outlines some initiatives that could set the platform for future growth.

“We applaud the government’s efforts towards their commitment to digital transformation of the economy. The specific commitment to an e-payment gateway for government services, national e-identity and unique national identification number and the use of virtual courts can all be transformative for both individuals and businesses in all sectors,” AMCHAM T&T stated.

“We trust that the Minister of Public Administration and Digital Transformation will give specific timelines for implementation, inclusive of appropriate and meaningful consultation with stakeholders,” it stated.

AMCHAM T&T stated that the government’s commitment to tackle specific impediments to the ease of doing business such as the time taken to get permits, modernization of the Port of Port of Spain and liberalization of the fuel market, are all welcome if they are done in an orderly and transparent manner.

“The Minister of Finance also highlighted several pieces of critical legislation that are high on the Government’s legislative agenda. AMCHAM T&T has long called for more bi-partisanship around the passage of legislation and we are keen to see both parties in the Parliament work together to pass legislation enabling more efficient tax collection, the full operationalization of the public procurement legislation and overall improvement in the ease of doing business,” it stated.

“Some might argue that the measures do not do enough to raise revenue in this fiscal period. That may be so, but if the measures outlined are implemented, there is likely to be a boost of confidence that will stimulate private sector investment in the years to come. Such investments will generate jobs and create additional revenue for the country,” it stated.