The Bankers Association of Trinidad and Tobago (BATT) notes with some concern the recently announced increase in the corporate tax rate, to be applied to the commercial banks in Trinidad and Tobago, from 30% to 35%. This announcement was made during the Minister of Finance 2018 Budget presentation in the Parliament yesterday.
The fact that the commercial banking sector was singled out for this unique corporate tax rate is concerning and disproportionately affects an industry, which employs over 7,400 Trinidad and Tobago citizens, has 20,000 individual shareholders and represents in excess of 1 million customers across the Country .
What is also contradictory in this announcement is that the Finance Minister also made the case for Trinidad and Tobago becoming a financial hub for the Caribbean region and suggested that this could increase employment in the country. What this increase in corporate tax rate does, however is to create the opposite effect and dissuades new investment in the sector and could eventually lead to employment loss.
While we all acknowledge the challenges facing the country from falling revenues, it is disappointing that the Finance Minister chose to focus on industries which are already contributing to the burden sharing instead of focusing more fully on widening the tax net to the large proportions of the economy which pay little or no taxes.
BATT strongly opposes this decision and will be seeking to discuss the matter further with the Minister of Finance to ensure the employees, shareholders and customers who depend on the strength and stability of this sector are not affected by decisions which are short- sighted and not in the best long term interests of the Country and the Financial Sector.