The Trinidad and Tobago European Business Chamber, in a release, announced its considerations for the 2024-2025 budget which focused on improving the investment environment.
It said implementing key policies, removing barriers to allow investment and partnership by the private sector to happen organically and investments outside the energy sector are needed, especially for economic diversification.
It added that TT posted a negative foreign direct investment inflow of US$778 million in 2021, falling by 174 per cent from the 2020 level. From 2020-2021 there were positive inflows of US$41,307 million.
"These regional investments were in warehousing, transport, electronics distribution and food production," the release said.
So far only two non-fossil fuel companies are to be invested in – Alternative Marine Fuels Project and Utility scale solar RE consortium projects – and the chamber appealed for more of these.
"Such investment will not only assist the country to build industries outside of oil and gas, help with transitioning and opportunities for quality employment but will also help TT to meet its Paris Agreement/COP commitments. Around the world, many oil-producing countries are focused on transitioning investments, so that they are not left behind."
With the establishment of a single trade and investment promotion entity being mentioned in the 2023 budget, the chamber said in its view, state agencies continue to implement government policy without consideration for the business community.
"Unless government policy is focused on transitioning to non-fossil fuels investment and economic diversification, TT in 30 years may have a much eroded economic base. A new TT Trade and Investment Promotion Agency should have a mandate to involve the business community on the focus of investment attraction and facilitation strategies."
It said though TT has made progress in terms of attracting private-sector investment to help with its carbon-reduction commitments, not enough progress was made in renewable energy policy, wind energy, e-mobility and transition of the workforce policy.
It added that the project to strengthen TT's transparency systems to meet the requirements of the enhanced transparency framework under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change was approved in 2021 for funding by GEF, with the Environmental Management Authority as the executing agency. As there is no legislation in place in TT to facilitate reporting of the required data by companies, TT may not be in a position to start reporting in 2024.
"Many firms will require capacity-building to identify and report data. In the absence of legislation, businesses, except the international businesses and financial institutions required by their head office or industry respectively, may not easily provide the data. Resources to support communications, sensitisation and technical assistance could be considered."
The workforce policy transition, it said, can be a way to attract investment in the non-energy sector. It added that the move from fossil fuel is inevitable.
"Companies should be incentivised to diversify investments that help transition their workforce to alternative decent, quality and sustainable work. Ensure that no group of people is left behind while restructuring to a more sustainable economy."
As for the non-energy sector, the chamber said it was pleased with the hotel expansions – Brix and Radisson Blu – and a new 79-room guest house – Comfort Inn and Suites – as well as the Marriott at Rocky Point, Tobago.
"These may have benefited from fiscal incentives and other financial support programmes available. Programmes that encourage expansions, modernisation and upgrade of room stock should continue."