A lower rate of value added tax (VAT) should be charged on all products and services, Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association president Nicholas Lok Jack has said.
“The level of tinkering that has been done to the VAT system over the years leaves it on unstable footing and an administrative nightmare.
“Why not return to a pure system of VAT, where we charge VAT on all products and all services, albeit at a lower rate at seven or eight per cent? We may just find the total tax intake may be higher than the system we have today,” said Lok Jack, who was re-elected as the association’s president for another year during its 58th annual general meeting at the Hyatt Regency (Trinidad) hotel, Port of Spain, on Tuesday.
Immigration policy and the difficulty in finding labour also continue to be sticking points for manufacturers, he said.
He said there was a gross, stifling shortage of labour showing up in product price increases and services and a lack of economic growth. On the other hand, he said, jobs were going unfulfilled because of a skills gap and the state of work readiness in practical terms of the incoming labour force.
“TT needs comprehensive immigration reform that starts from a fundamental premise that we cannot grow our economy with the currently labour movement, far less to diversify our economy. We must ensure immigration policy is one of deliberate intent,” he said.
He added manufactures must explore extra regional markets, since the unhealthy state of other Caribbean economies means they cannot be relied upon for sustained economic growth.
He said the TTMA was working with ExporTT to consider its options for expanding markets, as well as looking at Africa for a trade mission later this year.
Also elected to the association’s board of directors was Christopher Alcazar and Travis Ali. They replace long-standing board member and former president Paul Quesnel and Genevieve Jodhan.