Articles

VAT Refund Articles

TTMA’s Budget Wish List: Remove VAT from Imported Raw Materials

The Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA) has signaled to the Government, through its budget recommendations for 2018/19, the need for the expansion and growth of non-energy manufacturing sector as a priority area for moving T&T forward. In a statement on Wednesday, the Association President said the TTMA has listened to the concerns of its members and have shortlisted and prioritized the areas it believes that can have the most gains for manufacturing to grow. “Manufacturers must be able to become more competitive in order to compete on the global scale and grow exports, this takes an environment of productivity which is greatly impacted by government and labour,” the Trinidad and Tobago’s Manufacturer’s Association said. Read more

  

TTMA: Not Enough Done to Address VAT Returns 

The T&T Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA) says not enough effort was made by Finance Minister Colm Imbert to address approximately $6 billion owed in VAT returns. Reacting to the 2020 budget, the TTMA acknowledged what it termed the Government’s “ingenuity” in its attempt to address the VAT issue by proposing an initial $3 billion interest bearing bond facility, but felt not enough was done. “We regret it is not enough to offset the cost of doing business. SMEs stand to be most hard hit by this and we are concerned about their survivability in the near to medium term. In this regard, we will continue to lobby for a VAT net facilitation for our membership and in particular the entrepreneurs who need a different solution from what has been proposed,” the TTMA said in a statement issued yesterday. It said one concern remains the cost of transferring or trading the bonds to potential buyers. The TTMA noted that the existing housing bond of 4.5 per cent is more attractive to potential financial institutions, adding that it would have been ideal if priority treatment could have been given to this VAT bond facility. Read more

  

TTMA: VAT Bond Unhelpful to SME’s

Some small and medium businesses may not survive the period of the Government’s new VAT bonds, warned TT Manufacturers Association (TTMA) head Franka Costelloe. She spoke at the Spotlight on Budget 2020 yesterday at the Radisson Hotel, Port of Spain. Finance Minister Colm Imbert has offered $3 billion in VAT bonds over five years at 1.5 per cent interest in place of now paying VAT refunds. Costelloe lamented, “The cost of doing business is rising while the ease of doing business is slipping. The fight is not with each other, but is out there.” She said businesses pay tax at a rate of 30 cents on the dollar, and overall foot 20 per cent of the country’s total tax bill. Read more here

  

TTMA: Government Bond will Increase Business Costs

TT Manufacturers Association (TTMA) president Franka Costelloe offered her view on Monday's budget, saying government's solution to the VAT arrears issue would do more harm than good by increasing the cost of doing business. Speaking with Newsday after the TTMA dinner and excellence awards at the Hyatt on Tuesday Costelloe said the concessions by Finance Minister Colm Imbert, specifically government bonds, were not enough to improve the ease of doing business and maintained that challenges of foreign exchange were still major obstacles to the non-energy sector. She also said while this may be a solution to companies in debt to larger, international retailers, smaller local companies were especially vulnerable. Read more here

 

Foreign Exchange Articles

TTMA Happy with US$100M Facility

 

Manufacturers are happy they now have access to a US$100 million facility. In a statement yesterday, the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association said it was pleased to note that the US$100 million facility which is being disbursed in tanches to manufacturers by EXIMBANK has finally. Read more

  

EXIMBANK to Realease US$30 million more to Exporters

Some 50 exporters across 13 sectors have received about US$21 million to purchase raw materials and other inputs, in the facility established by the Government and executed by T&T’s EXIMBANK to ease access to foreign exchange. Read more

  

EU providing funding for TT’s EXIMBANK

The European Union Delegation to TT has announced that it has provided funding to the Export-Import Bank of TT (Eximbank) to conduct market demand testing on its current and potential new products and services. This was reported in a release from the delegation Monday. "This testing is critical to increasing the bank's delivery of innovative trade financing solutions, in order to improve non-energy exports and international trade," the release stated. Read more

 

Illicit Trade Articles

Illicit Trade in Music 

"…the growth of illicit digital trade of copyrighted works continues to grow; the value of digital piracy in music, movies and software in 2015 alone was estimated to be more than US$200 billion"[i]  

The illicit trade in music known as piracy and copyright infringement, is the exploitation of another person’s musical creation via reproduction and duplication for bootleg sale, unauthorized sampling for a new musical work, or distribution or unlicensed use in an environment where money will be exchanged. Copyright piracy also entails movies, television, music and live performances, computer software and video games.  

Concert promoter and music writer Nigel Campbell states the digital transformation in music has had dire consequences for local songwriters and producers. Before the advent of digital music, the industry benefitted from the sale of CDs, LPs, and cassettes. Now, it is used as a licensor of copies for public access for example, streaming and broadcast. He said the recorded industry sees unauthorized access to music on geo-fenced major subscriber streaming platforms, like Spotify and Tidal, via VPN (virtual private networks). Read more

 

Illicit Trade in Tabacco - A Societal Issue

Globally, the illicit trade in tobacco products presents a range of economic and social effects that range from adverse impact on public health to tax evasion and the financing of terrorist groups. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that one in every ten cigarettes smoked is illicit. [i]

Laurent Meffre, Managing Director of The West Indian Tobacco Company Limited says the illicit trade in tobacco is a societal issue. The consequences range from national security, economic loss from tax evasions, trademark infringements, undermining of brand investments, and detrimental quality issues associated with poor manufacturing conditions, “Our parent company - The British American Tobacco Group has conducted research and we have seen high levels of illicit cigarettes flooding many markets. Smugglers are well coordinated, and illicit trade is linked to more organized criminal gangs and networks associated with human trafficking, terrorism, drugs and arms and even money laundering.” Read More

 

Calls for Tighter Controls to Stop Illegal Trade

The illicit trade in tobacco is a societal issue and the consequences range from national security, economic loss from tax evasions, trademark infringements, undermining of brand investments, and detrimental quality issues associated with poor manufacturing conditions.So said Laurent Meffre, Managing Director of The West Indian Tobacco Company Ltd (WITCO) who advised there is no need ‘to arrest the legal decline before it is too late as we approach the 10 per cent critical mass threshold, and this requires a significant and sustainable dent to get to minimum levels, as neighboring islands  have risen as far as 77 per cent.’ Read more

 

Illicit Trade in T&T Alcohol Industry

“Illicit trade continues to deprive local businesses of sales, and every sale counts to keep law abiding people employed and shops open. Illegal sales of alcohol also deprive the country of state funds that support our schools, hospitals, pensions, roads and jobs. Products sold illegally are not checked or regulated are a serious health risks to consumers. Illicit trade affects all consumer goods and products such as clothes, makeup, alcohol, cigarettes, pharmaceuticals, fashion jewelry, food etc. This requires a collaborative effort with public and private sectors addressing the issue with key law enforcement authorities to develop methods to deal with the scourge of illicit trade.” As much as twenty percent of key brands of imported scotch, vodka and cognac are likely to be smuggled into the shores of Trinidad and Tobago through illicit means. This is based on a 2014 study produced by global research centre Euromonitor International. According to the study, illicit alcoholic beverages are defined as those not complying with the regulations and taxes in the countries where they are consumed, resulting in revenue loss, and brand degradation for legitimate manufacturers, as well as reduced tax revenue for governments. Read more

 

T&T Awash With Counterfeit Products

Managing Director of Bastion Market Intelligence Ltd in Port-of Spain, Roger Montero, believes that if the problems of illicit trade are addressed, then this country can get an improved ranking in the next Global Illicit Trade Environment Index. In a statement Montero noted that illicit trade forms two parts. Firstly, according to him, is the most tangible and includes the trafficking of narcotics, humans, weapons, cigarettes, alcohol, wildlife and so on. The second and most intangible part, he said, is being carried out virtually, and is commonly known as cyber-attacks, where criminal elements hack into your computer or mobile systems and can hold you to ransom. This involves the use of malware, spyware and password hacking. “It is becoming more and more pervasive,” Montero said. Read more

 

Illicit Trade: The Criminal Element and Law Enforcement 

Trinidad and Tobago is a breeding ground for illicit trade activities, with its lucrative commercial market, unsuspecting consumers, and its under resourced authorities who are left to determine what are illicitly traded goods and products. If these problems are addressed, then perhaps, this country can get an improved ranking in the next Global Illicit Trade Environment Index. The index, produced by the Economist Intelligence Unit and Commissioned by the Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade was last published in 2018, and ranked T&T as number 75 out of 84 countries. The index measures the extent to which economies enable (or inhibit) illicit trade through their policies and initiatives to combat illicit trade. It examines four main categories: government policy, supply and demand, transparency and trade, and the customs environment. Read more

 

Illicit Trade: What is Contraband and Why is it an Issue?

The illicit trade of goods manifests itself in different ways, including counterfeiting, adulteration of goods, and tax evasion. These are clear violations of any country’s laws – and certainly here in T&T. However, there are some violations that are not as clear - among those is contraband. Contraband is defined as a product that has been illegally imported from one jurisdiction and sold in another. By definition, a contraband product is not necessarily a product that is of poor quality, since such products are manufactured according to regulations of the originating country and designed for sale and consumption in the specific locales. Read more 

 

TTMA commends St Lucia crackdown on Illicit Cigarettes

The TT Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA) has commended St Lucian authorities for taking swift action against illicit cigarettes. In a recent swoop down on products that do not conform to regulations, officials issued a public advisory to stop consumers from purchasing Zon (king size full flavour 20 class filter) cigarettes and vendors were asked to cease sale and distribution and to submit any stocks in their possession for disposal. The Bureau of Standards also stated that it would prosecute anyone found selling or distributing this product. The brand has also been seen on the market in TT. TTMA president, Franka Costelloe, said via a release on Friday that the action by the St Lucian authorities is a step in the right direction. "It is in the consumers’ interest to purchase regulated products deemed safe by the appropriate regulators. Consumers must stop supporting products entering any country illegally, jeopardising our safety and ultimately eroding local business that are compliant and committed to free and fair trade.” Read more

 

Impact of COVID on Illicit Trade

There is no doubt the social and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will have profound effects on the world, most particularly organized crime and illicit trade. The early ramifications of the increasingly susceptible, and some criminal groups are already using the restriction on movement as an ‘opportunity’ to increase their illegal activities. For example, as Governments attempt to curtail free movement to stop the spread of the virus, the police and army are being utilized for enforcement, but at the same time struggling with lack of manpower, social distancing measures and diminished resources. Instances where the state’s reach may be weak, agreements with criminal bosses may be harvested in order to enforce social distancing and even public order. Read more

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