The 2018 National Budget Of The Republic Of Trinidad And Tobago
The Tourism Development Company (TDC) has been dissolved and replaced by two new companies.
The Tourism Trinidad Company will market the Trinidad tourism product in conjunction with the Ministry of Tourism. The Minister describes the Trinidad tourism product as comprising of meetings, conferences, exhibitions, and cultural tourism.
The Tobago Tourism Agency will market and develop the Tobago tourism product as a leisure based location under the remit of the Tobago House of Assembly.
Alongside this the Maracas Beach upgrade will be completed shortly and the Sandals Project in Tobago – despite some reports to the contrary – is still proceeding. The Minister expects the negotiations with Sandals to be concluded shortly.
Over the period 2003 to 2016 Trinidad and Tobago’s food import bill is estimated to have amounted to US$8.91 billion.
Despite many incentives, the number of persons engaging in full-time agriculture and agro-processing has continued to decline. Therefore, the Government plans to introduce a financial support programme for farmers with grants available for new and existing farmers up to TT$100,000.
Grants will be directed to financing the purchase of seeds, planting materials, livestock, feed, chemicals, equipment, engines, and other essential inputs, but will not be available for the purchase of vehicles and other “non-essentials”.
Business Process Outsourcing
The Government approach to business process outsourcing has two facets:
- Making Trinidad and Tobago an International Finance Centre offering a broader range of services and serving as a financial gateway to Latin America.
- Taking the necessary steps to make Trinidad and Tobago a preferred location for “Business Process Outsourcing”.
The Government intends to establish Trinidad and Tobago as the premier destination for yacht repair services. To this end the Government is:
- Developing legislation to provide a clear distinction from commercial maritime laws and provide regulations and operating procedures.
- Introducing a single harmonised form which will reduce entry and departure times for cruisers visiting Trinidad and Tobago.
- Developing a comprehensive marketing and promotion plan for the yachting sub sector.
- Looking at marina development through a public-private sector partnership.
The Creative Industries
As part of the diversification strategy the Government intends to facilitate the development of Trinidad and Tobago’s creative industries. These are identified as music, film and fashion.
In respect of music, an Export Ready Academy will be created to assist artists with the production, marketing, and exporting of their music.
For the promotion of film, the first step is to create a strategic plan, and to foster the development of talent through training and certification programmes. A Production Assistance and Script Development Programme will provide funding to film makers to allow them to produce high quality films.
For fashion the Minister plans to set-up a garment production facility at the John Donaldson campus and launch a Tailoring Certification Programme at the same facility.
The Minister identified that a low-income housing crisis exists in Trinidad and Tobago. This crisis exists for several reasons:
- Demand for low-income housing far outstrips supply, with a HDC waiting list of over 150,000 persons, and a maximum HDC construction rate of 2,000 new homes per year.
- The HDC has lost focus and drifted into the construction of housing affordable only to those with middle and upper incomes.
- The construction cost of houses has spiralled from TT$100,000 in 2002 to TT$1.2 million in 2015.
- HDC sells houses for prices that range from TT$500,000 to TT$700,000. This translates to a large loss or hidden subsidy per house sold.
To counter this the Government proposes to re-focus HDC on the construction of low-income housing, and to incentivise the private sector to construct houses by offering a cash incentive of up to TT$100,000 per house (or by the provision of free state land to build on in lieu of the cash incentive).
The Minister also announced plans to simplify the planning process.
The new Housing Programme is intended to start from the 1st January 2018 with the Government allocating TT$50 million to provide incentives for the construction of approximately 1,000 units.
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