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Howai upbeat on reform prospects

By Carla Bridglal carla.bridglal@trinidadexpress.com

Finance Minister Larry Howai said yesterday he was "very confident" the fiscal reforms passed in the Finance Act on Monday in the Lower House of Parliament to incentivise investors would be successful.

Speaking to reporters at Day 2 of the Trinidad and Tobago Energy Conference at the Hyatt Regency (Trinidad) in Port of Spain, Howai said the Government had received several offers even at the start of this year, particularly noting BP's plan to invest US$6 billion over the next five years.

"One of the things we decided to do is give a tax break if you went into exploration and found oil and gas; if you find hydrocarbons you get a lower tax rate but nothing if it's a dry hole. This is fine because we will still be getting taxes on more oil," he said.

Howai said the Government was aware of the fact Trinidad and Tobago had the highest take rate (from taxes) in the region after Venezuela.

"Ten years ago we were much more competitive and since then everyone has copied our models and have lowered tax rates and become more aggressive. And being aware of that is why we passed the fiscal adjustments to increase our competitiveness and we are starting to see the results of it now," he said.

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