Trinidad and Tobago is among ‘the next wave’ of investment destinations. The country’s geographical location provides easy access to regional and international markets and its status as the financial hub in the Caribbean continues to strengthen. In addition, the country has a well-educated English-speaking workforce compensated at competitive rates. This pool of human capital combined with the country’s excellent telecom infrastructure, up to date business legislation and attractive tax regime makes Trinidad & Tobago a favorable investment location. It is against this backdrop that investors, existing and proposed, with even greater frequency, approach outsourcing providers who possess in-depth knowledge and expertise in local market conditions.
The Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (GORTT) has pledged to facilitate inbound investment by creating the infrastructure for speedy company incorporation and, generally, business start-up. The GORTT agencies such as InvestTT, Trinidad and Tobago International Financial Center (TTIFC), Trinidad and Tobago Free Zones Company Limited (TTFZ) and the Tourism Development Company (TDC) provide added support to investors who need insights into the cultural and business landscape as well as advice on doing business in the country.
For decades firms in Trinidad and Tobago have been providing outsourcing solutions to companies as diverse as international oil and gas majors and niche technical service providers. Consistent with the global trend, we are witnessing in Trinidad and Tobago businesses large and small, directing their energy and resources toward core activities in pursuit of their unique competitive advantage. This has led to the increasing demand for outsource services in “non-core” areas such as accounting, taxation, human resources, payroll and statutory compliance. Investors establishing a market presence for the first time in Trinidad and Tobago often make the same enquiries when deciding to outsource.
In Trinidad and Tobago accounting professionals are affiliated with global bodies such as ACCA, CGA and CIMA are governed by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Trinidad and Tobago (ICATT). They can provide timely customized reporting in line with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) to meet the needs of global companies.
Human resource consultancy services have increased tremendously in recent years. Trinidad and Tobago is home to a highly educated and skilled workforce. There is a keen interest from investors in local top talent particularly those with deep subject matter expertise. Outsourcing providers have the databases and networks to headhunt senior and executive positions. They are better able to identify the top leaders who have the cultural adaptability and skills to work at a global level.
Outsourcing providers take care of the hiring and payroll for temporary, permanent and contract staff. They ensure compliance with local laws and this works particularly well for international companies hired for a local project for a specified period of time. Retrenchment, severance and other industrial relations issues require a sound understanding of Trinidad and Tobago’s robust industrial relations regime. Outsourcing providers can ensure compliance with local labour laws as well as provide advisory services.
Recruitment is often paired with payroll services and investors must be cognizant of local tax requirements. Companies need to ensure compliance with specific payroll tax laws as expatriates may not have the local knowledge of the taxes to be calculated. When companies are due to renew their employees’ work permits, they discover the need of a local outsourcing payroll specialist who can address an unexpected issue due to payroll legislation changes.
All companies must comply with the Income Tax Act, Corporation Tax Act and Value Added Tax Act (VAT). Companies frequently rely on outsourcing providers to manage timely submissions of their taxation obligations. They also seek tax planning services and advice on complex tax issues for example withholding tax and double tax treaties.
In Trinidad and Tobago, the Companies Act, 1995 imposes stringent responsibilities on the directors and officers of the company. Some local and foreign investors choose to go to an outsourcing provider to act on their behalf and to maintain their statutory filings and records as they do not have the expertise or time to manage this.
In addition, global practices such as the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations and regulatory requirements have put increased pressure on organizations to implement good governance practices. With limited presence on the ground for some investors, it is important to ensure appropriate checks and balances so that head office is aware of and able to control remote locations. Providers can assist investors with assessing key risk areas, establishing robust internal controls and developing policies and procedures. For those local investors, outsourcing providers can test existing controls.
Trinidad and Tobago is an attractive investment location and its culture and local laws coupled with international organizations enables outsourcing providers to deliver first class service.