Trinidad & Tobago is recognised as the financial hub within the Caribbean and is strategically positioned to attract foreign companies looking to expand their businesses in the Latin American and Caribbean region. Outsourcing of operations is becoming a key strategic decision as more international companies seek to improve efficiency, concentrate on their core activities and reduce their recurring expenses.
The business environment has sufficiently advanced technologically to enable international businesses to operate remotely, with or without setting up a local presence. According to the Telecommunications Authority of T&T Annual Market Report 2013, the rate of business broadband Internet growth exceeds that of residential, 15 per cent compared to three per cent, and 4G mobile Internet users now account for the majority of mobile Internet users. International head offices are working with local outsourcing providers for web-enabled solutions to further facilitate the ease of conducting business transactions remotely and securely in Trinidad and Tobago.
In terms of workforce, companies operating in this twin-island republic, such as international manufacturer TD Williamson Inc. and US conglomerate Honeywell, are hiring local management teams to lead their operations. Furthermore, Trinidad and Tobago has over 7,000 persons graduating with a university degree annually and the government continues to strongly support free tertiary education programmes. Local outsourcing companies search for qualified, competent and knowledgeable resources to assist from set-up to management of full operations locally.
One area of business operations that is attractive to outsource is the management of local and expatriate payroll as this offers a valuable alternative to in-house processing. When you factor in the time spent on managing the process without adequate local knowledge and resources for an in-house payroll programme, it is actually more cost effective to outsource this function.
Payroll Specialists are qualified to accurately interpret and apply payroll statutory laws based on the various circumstances that may arise in the payroll environment. Investors, both foreign and local, need not concern themselves with pay dates, misinterpretation of laws and other statutory payment deadlines if this function is outsourced to a local provider.
When seeking a solution for the management of the payroll function, most companies look for a local provider with the following competencies.
o Knowledge in payroll tax laws
In addition, with Trinidad and Tobago’s Anti-Money Laundering legislation, compliance is mandatory to avoid potential penalties. Working knowledge of the requirements will assist immensely in formulating processes and procedures within organisations. It would be beneficial if this type of expertise is available as part of the outsourcing service package.
Businesses in the Caribbean have recognised the need to streamline security systems and implement internal controls on par with international standards. This continues to be a top focus for the business community.
As an investor, finding a suitable agency with the local knowledge to manage the payroll function from engagement to compensation can be just an e-mail or phone call away. Qualified professionals will ensure that all the necessary registration and compliance issues are addressed.
Foreign nationals coming into Trinidad can be assisted with registration at the Inland Revenue Division and the National Insurance Board. Their net salary can be calculated and remitted electronically to their bank account. If there are other assignments to be disbursed this can also be accommodated. At the end of the calendar year, a TD4 (summary of an employee’s annual earnings and taxes used for record keeping and filing of tax return) will be generated and a Tax Return can also be prepared and filed at the Inland Revenue Division. This payroll process, combined with outsourcing other internal business functions, can be done seamlessly with the guidance of experienced, local, outsourcing providers. They can deliver global services to manage the setting up of the local business, ensuring compliance and supporting investors from inception to growth.
Furthermore, the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (GORTT) continues to facilitate the ease of doing business by making necessary improvements to processes and developing agencies such as InvesTT, Trinidad and Tobago International Financial Centre (TTIFC) and Trinidad and Tobago Free Zones Company Ltd (TTFZ) to extend assistance to investors choosing to set up a business locally.
The number one reservation foreign investors have with entering new markets is the lack of contacts with the right people in the country. These agencies address this concern directly and ensure investors are in touch with the right people to discuss their business needs, gain market insight and allow free zone operations.
One major achievement from TTIFC is the pilot BPO training initiative with Quattro Global Services, an India-based company. Trinidad and Tobago was selected to launch this project for card processing to support clients in the Caribbean region.
Trinidad and Tobago continues to serve as the attractive location to investors interested in setting up regional headquarters for the Caribbean and Latin American market because of its strategic geographical location, developed infrastructure and skilled workforce. Investors can choose whether to manage their expansion with limited presence on the ground or to set up local operations and have both local and expat employees. In both cases, a trustworthy outsourcing provider can help manage local compliance as well deliver the global requirements for all internal business operations.