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Business leaders optimistic about 2018—OBG report
According to the Oxford Business Group (OBG) business leaders in T&T remain optimistic about the fortunes of the country in 2018.
Their Country Report for T&T for 2017 stated: “Despite some challenges associated with diversifying the economy and improving revenue generation, OBG's most recent survey of CEOs in the country, published in November, shows a growing sense of optimism among the business community.”
Some 57 percent of respondents said they were positive about local business conditions for the coming 12 months, which according to OBG is a marked improvement on the 18 percent recorded in the corresponding survey conducted in late 2016.
“C-suite executives also expressed a greater appetite for expansion, with 60.7 percent saying it was likely or very likely their firms would make significant capital investments in 2018, up from 44 percent the previous year.”
OBG is a British research firm with global reach and has been heavily involved with mapping new waves of emerging economies.
The OBG reports said while T&T's non-energy sector is expected to struggle somewhat in the coming year, the IMF has forecast a 1.2 percent contraction in non-oil growth in 2018.
“Energy's contribution to the economy is set to rebound strongly; the sector is predicted to grow by 7.7 percent on the back of higher prices and increased production. This growth will be key to driving T&T's economy back into positive territory, with the IMF projecting headline GDP will expand by 1.9 percent next year.”
The OBG report also commented on the gas deal with Venezuela: “Further discoveries could be in the offing, following the signing of an energy partnership agreement with Venezuela in November. The deal will see the two countries jointly explore cross-border gas fields.”
Apart from the energy sector, the OBG also referred to the tax reforms undertaken by the T&T Government.
“The Government announced the creation the T&T Revenue Authority, the new agency tasked with tax collection. Set to be operational in early 2018, the authority will have a broader remit than the two bodies it is replacing - the Inland Revenue Division and the Customs and Excise Division - and will be responsible for improving financial transparency, conducting audits and investigating suspected evasion.”
The OBG noted that while the reforms are expected to generate extra revenue for the state, industry groups in affected sectors have warned local businesses and activity could be negatively affected.
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