Cut the red tape

Make it easier to do business here, says trini minister

Roll out the red carpet and cut the red tape.

That’s the advice the Barbados Government is getting from Trinidad & Tobago’s Minister of Trade, Industry, Investment and Communications Senator Vasant Bharath who says the Freundel Stuart administration must get rid of stumbling blocks to businesses who want to invest.

Trinidad's Minister of Trade - Vasant Bharath
Trinidad & Tobago’s Minister of Trade – Vasant Bharath

Speaking to regional and international officials gathered in Trinidad for the second annual CIBC FirstCaribbean Infrastructure Conference at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Bharath said that based on what he was hearing, several projects were being “attempted” by the private sector in Barbados, but the Government was yet to create the enabling environment for the private sector to adequately do business.

He added that Barbados was in financial difficulty and was trying to dig itself “out of the doldrums”.

“These are turbulent times and for us or for any country to dig [ourselves] out of the financial fold that presented itself abruptly in 2008, the fact is that government has to take it by the scruff of the neck. Government has to provide the enabling environment to ensure that you can first of all engage the private sector and then allow the private sector to invest, not necessarily through incentives only but also clearing the bureaucracy to allow the private sector to want to invest and strive subsequently,” added Bharath.

He said by doing so, the private sector players would develop the level of confidence and trust to continue to invest.

The minister of trade said Trinidad & Tobago had made some progress, pointing out that as far as efficiency mechanisms were concerned the number of days to set up a business in that country had moved from 43 to three.

“The process of registering for VAT has moved from 30 days to 24 hours; so is the case for registration for NIS, for employer and employee. Work permits are a lot easier to obtain today [and] certificates of origin with regard to manufactured goods leaving Trinidad and Tobago,” he said.

“It really does require political will, particularly when you are dealing across multiple agencies and multiple government ministries. And it really does require taking things by the scruff of their neck and not [being] willing to let go and just say we are going to make sure this is [completed].”

The two-day conference at which Bharath was speaking is centred on public-private partnerships and is being held under the theme Driving Caribbean Infrastructure Forward.


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