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The Trinidad & Tobago Business Guide (TTBG, 2009-10)

20 TTBG

20 TTBG 09/10 (This page) The three levels of Argyle Falls, Tobago (Opposite page) Pigeon Point from a glass-bottom boat on Buccoo Reef

10 per cent year-on-year in June 2007 and almost 25 per cent in February 2008, though some of this was imported. Diversification For some years now, Tobago has been trying to reduce its dependence on tourism. The diversification model seeks to maintain the island’s pristine beauty and stay true to its slogan—“clean, green, safe and serene”— while finding new sources of employment and revenue. The most visible result so far is the island’s first industrial estate, the Cove Eco- Business and Industrial Park in the southwest of the island, where investors are being invited to set up plants ranging from furniture making to agro-processing (see below). Tobago investors receive the same investment incentives as their Trinidad counterparts. Tax holidays, exemptions from import taxes and import duty, and exemptions from corporation taxes, taxes on dividends and value added taxes are some of the perks that make local investment attractive. Land ownership Land ownership in Tobago, however, has been a challenge. The Foreign Investment Act of 1990 specified that “a foreign investor may acquire land […] which does not exceed one acre for residential purposes and five acres for the purpose of trade or business without obtaining a licence”. The most noticeable effect of this piece of legislation was that foreign speculators bought up attractive sites and pushed prices to the point where, according to the THA’s Chief Secretary, Orville London, “Tobagonians could not buy land, and the same piece of land was being sold several times without being developed.” Seeing no benefits, incentives or opportunities for Tobagonians in this scenario, the THA moved to change the regulations. As a result, foreigners who want to buy land in Tobago must now apply for a licence from the finance ministry in Port of Spain (this does not apply to the Cove estate). Applications are reviewed by a THA-appointed committee which makes recommendations to the ministry. Since this measure was implemented in February 2007, no licences have been issued. According to the chief secretary, the resulting problems are “being addressed”. Infrastructure development Tobago’s infrastructure is better than most of its Caribbean neighbours, the THA’s former Tobago investors receive the same investment incentives as their Trinidad counterparts. Tax holidays, exemptions from import taxes and import duty, and exemptions from corporation taxes, taxes on dividends and value added taxes are some of the perks that make local investment attractive Tourism and Transportation Secretary, Neil Wilson, has boasted. There are three landline, mobile and broadband service providers, one of which, the Telecommunications Company of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT), is 51 per cent owned by the government. The other two are privately owned. The Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC) provides Tobago with electricity via a marine cable, though the island will soon generate power of its own from a plant at the Cove estate. Tobago has a fairly good road system, allowing easy access to most of the island. The most developed areas are Crown Point and Mount Irvine in the southwest, where the airport and most of the tourism facilities are located. The main highway, the Claude Noel Highway, runs from Crown Point and the airport to Bacolet just beyond Scarborough, the capital, then branches off into the Windward Road which winds 09/10 TTBG 21

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