The American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad & Tobago (AMCHAM T&T) is concerned about the lack of clarity on the implementation of the proposed Property Tax.
AMCHAMT T&T understands the urgency of increased revenue collection and supports the need for a Property Tax. However, the re-introduction of any policy measure must not occur in an environment of uncertainty. We urge the Government to provide details on the valuation and implementation of the Property Tax, particularly where it relates to uncovered plant, rigs, and machinery.
Proper implementation of the Property Tax is key to reducing any negative impact on the business community that has already been significantly taxed over the last few years. It is also fundamental to the ability of the country to attract new investors. We are concerned that this may be a deterrent to new investors, whose deployed capital in the form of new plant or equipment, will now attract an exorbitant Property Tax before depreciation can be applied.
AMCHAM T&T has been requesting clarity and underscoring the need for greater discussion since 2015. In September 2015 AMCHAM T&T CEO Nirad Tewarie, in his address at our Doing Business in Latin America forum, stated “We anticipate that in the upcoming budget there may be a return to the Land and Building tax. If so, we urge the government to be mindful of the impact on business and to provide clear and detailed information on how it will be implemented.”
AMCHAM T&T again raised the issue in June 2016, when the chamber submitted its budget recommendations to the Ministry of Finance, where we asked for a “Review of Lands and Building Tax regime in consultation with stakeholders” and we reiterated the call for collaboration and clarity in our response to the National Budget presentation. Further, AMCHAM T&T’s President Ravi Suryadevara wrote to the Minister of Finance on Friday 24th March, 2017 requesting a meeting to discuss the tax, but to date, no response has been received.
If the Government would like to promote public-private sector partnership they must create an environment that encourages investment, entrepreneurship, and diversification, greater effort must be made to foster the trust and open dialogue to facilitate such.
In a global environment where nothing is certain, and concerns about our economy linger, the Government must make a greater effort to reduce ambiguity and promote confidence to drive growth.