With Budget Day set for October 5, the Tobago Business Chamber is proposing several ways in which the Government can stimulate Tobago’s economy.
One such proposal is to make Tobago a VAT-free zone.
In a WhatsApp voice note on the Chamber’s budget proposal, chairman Martin George said changing the island’s VAT-status is not a new proposal as the Chamber “floated” the idea before.
“We are requesting that Tobago be made a totally VAT-free zone. It is not impossible. You have places like Panama, where they have within the country a declared duty-free zone. We think that will also help to stimulate greater investment in Tobago.”
He said the initiative would be attractive to retirees searching for a lower standard of living.
The Chamber president also proposed the “complete and unconditional removal” of the Foreign Investment legislation.
He said the legislation has “crippled and stiffed all forms of direct foreign investment into Tobago. We need to see that legislation totally repealed. It has been the greatest albatross around the neck of Tobago.”
According to the Foreign Investment Act (FIA) 1990, foreign investors can own 100 per cent of a private company. However, they can only acquire 30 per cent of a public company unless they receive a license from the government.
For residential land greater than one acre and commercial land greater than five acres, they must obtain a license.
To further stimulate the economy, the Chamber’s chairman also proposed a “mandatory local contractor input in all mega projects” undertaken by the government.
He added: “We don’t want just 10 per cent labour input, we want sub-contractors. There must be at least 10 per cent of your local contract being for the local contractor, so they get a chance to learn the skills set.”
The Chamber also wants the Government to begin construction on the mariner it proposed; faster processing and payment of COVID Relief Grants to employees and businesses in the accommodation sector.