The Trinidad & Tobago government says it is moving towards introducing online payments for the collection of taxes with the assistance of the Development Bank of Latin America, also known as CAF.
The Ministry of Finance said it has retained the services of NRD Companies, a global information technology and consulting group, for the project.
“Trinidad and Tobago is ranked among the ‘high EDGI countries’ category in the United Nations’ E-Government Development Index, which presents the state of e-government development in the member states, and its overall performance of digitalisation is above the average of the Caribbean subregion,” the ministry said.
According to the Ministry of Trade and Industry, only 20 per cent of the Trinidadian population makes online purchases or pays bills online, despite the fact that 81 per cent of people have a bank account and 20 per cent have a credit card.
“Most monetary transactions in the region continue to require the filing of multiple complex documents and spending long hours waiting in line at different government offices. The existing practices have a disruptive impact on businesses and individuals, especially those segments of the population that are less averse to technology and more socially vulnerable,” said Finance Minister Colm Imbert.
“Making tax payment procedures easier, as well as providing various channels to make payments, will not only improve the efficiency of taxation systems, but also greatly contribute to financial inclusiveness and just development nationally and across the Caribbean,” he added.
To facilitate online tax collection, the legislation and regulations governing Trinidad’s payment ecosystem will be reviewed for adaptation, the needs of institutions and online payment methods will be assessed, and recommendations to ensure security and resilience of the digital ecosystem needed to support the online tax payment system will be presented.
In addition, the project will include the promotion of cultural change in the behaviour of the institutions, people, and businesses to encourage their embrace of the new possibilities provided by the introduction of innovative payment methods.
“CAF is committed to improving the quality of life of all Latin Americans and Caribbean peoples, and digitalisation opens endless opportunities to implement this strategic goal. We believe in the potential of Trinidad and Tobago to harness possibilities provided by digital tools and solutions,” said CAF representative, Gianpiero Leoncini.
He said CAF recently approved a US$120 million loan for Trinidad’s digital transformation efforts.
NRD Companies CEO Mindaugas Glodas said his company has previously digital government transformation projects in various regional countries, including in Belize, Guyana, Grenada, St Lucia, Sint Maarten, and St Vincent & the Grenadines.
“Our global experience, and specifically in the Caribbean region, demonstrates that the implementation of digital innovations has brought major improvements to the provision of government services, and will have a significant impact on areas such as ease of doing business, financial security, inclusion, and overall quality of life,” Glodas said.