To survive in the post Covid-19 environment, Trinidad and Tobago must aggressively diversify its economy.

The global pandemic has affected the world economy to the extent that the medium to long term outlook for oil and gas commodities is uncertain and weak. Future demand for other manufactured products is also uncertain. Covid-19 has thus shown us that we can no longer afford to put all our eggs on one basket or pay lip service to economic diversification.

We must move swiftly to harness local talent and capacity to stimulate and develop other industries and sectors, by providing fiscal incentives, removing impediments to the ease of doing business, digitising all Government services, and providing general support to the private sector. The industries we will target for growth include:

  • Manufacturing for Domestic Consumption and Export
  • Export of Energy Services
  • Non-Oil Industry (aluminium, steel, chemicals)
  • Construction, including construction materials
  • Housing
  • Environmentally Friendly and Green Technology
  • Recycling
  • Technology (software, mobile applications, electronic transactions, cyber security, ICT etc.)
  • Creative and Cultural Industries (Music, Film, Fashion, Art, Theatre etc.)
  • Entertainment
  • Agriculture, especially import substitution and agro-processsing
  • Financial and other Services, including FinTech and Cybersecurity
  • Ship Building and Ship Repair
  • Tourism in all its facets (medical, sports, leisure, and events tourism)
  • Food and Beverages
  • Online Shopping Services for Local products

Post Covid-19, special emphasis must be placed on the support and development of Small and Medium Enterprises, especially financial support.

To facilitate diversification, the PNM will:

  • Provide tax credits for job creation and exports in all non-oil industries and sectors
  • Reduce tax rates by 5% for significant exporters of our products and small and medium technology and construction companies
  • Continue and expand the guaranteed soft loan programmes for Small and Medium Enterprises
  • Waive income tax for start-ups and small and medium companies less than 3 years old
  • Reserve 20% of all Government business for small and medium companies
  • Expand current foreign exchange windows for exporters and importers of essential item
  • Ensure continuous and timely availability of Value Added Tax Refunds through creation of a special ring-fenced Fund for payments and refunds of VAT
  • Allow the netting off of VAT payments against VAT refunds for exporters
  • Support local businesses to enter and maintain a presence in overseas markets
  • Commence an aggressive drive in the construction of housing, targeting the construction of 25,000 new homes over the next 10 years, with preferential conditions and assistance for small and medium construction companies
  • Provide tax credits for the local manufacture of building materials
  • Increase financial support, through grants and soft loans, for farmers, agri-processors, and the creative and cultural industries
  • Create a special-purpose state enterprise, specifically designed to help small and medium companies with start-up and working capital, through grants and soft loans, without onerous conditions, such as a requirement for audited financials