Trinidad and Tobago is a Caribbean country located in the south-eastern West Indies with a population of approximately 1.4Mn. The country’s Ministry of Finance aims to increase accessibility and improve the ease of honouring tax obligations for people and businesses, by supporting key legal, regulatory and change management initiatives for the digitalization of the online tax payment ecosystem in the country. With the help of CAF – Development Bank of Latin America, the Ministry of Finance has recently retained the services of NRD Companies to support these efforts.
Trinidad and Tobago is ranked in the “High EDGI countries” category in the United Nations‘ E-Government Development Index (EGDI), which presents the state of E-Government Development in the member states, and its overall performance of digitalization is above the average of the Caribbean sub-region. As well, Trinidad and Tobago stands as a “High-ranking country“ according to the UN’s Online Services Index (OSI), which measures the use of information and communications technology by Governments for the delivery of public services at the national level. The Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago gives particular attention to “digital-first”, and the country’s progress in digitalization and the integration of digital technologies in its public services which, over recent years, corresponds with a substantial growth in the use of the Internet amongst the population.
Yet, in terms of the use of e-payment services, the population is not adept to the use of digital channels to carry out financial operations. According to the Ministry of Trade and Industry, only 20% of the population makes online purchases and/or pays bills online, despite the fact that 81 % of people have a bank account and 20 % 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. 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” explains the Honourable Colm Imbert, Minister of Finance.
The project, which is financed by the CAF – Development Bank of Latin America and the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, will include various aspects highly important to the introduction of online payments in the Trinidad and Tobago public sector. During the project, the legislation and regulations governing Trinidad and Tobago’s payment ecosystem will be reviewed and adapted, detailed assessment of needs of institutions for online payment methods will be implemented and detailed recommendations to ensure security and resilience of the digital ecosystem needed to support the online tax payment system will be presented. As well, promotion of cultural change in the behaviour of the institutions, people, and businesses will be promoted, encouraging to embrace 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. Just recently, CAF approved a USD 120 million loan to boost digital transformation of the State. This project is one of the important steps in the country’s digital transformation, which will enable the public sector to be more efficient, and to act as catalyst for diversification and economic growth”, comments Gianpiero Leoncini, Representative of CAF in Trinidad and Tobago.
“We are excited and honoured to have been chosen by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to provide technical consultancy services to support the Ministry of Finance and other institutions towards the development of an online payment ecosystem for the collection of taxes in the country. Through this consultancy, we will support the government’s efforts towards establishment of a unified and standardized approach to online payments in the public sector, ensuring both the best user experience and security of payments. Our company has been involved in numerous successful digital government transformation projects in the region, including in Belize, Guyana, Granada, 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” says Mindaugas Glodas, CEO of NRD Companies.