from the Business Guardian (Trinidad and Tobago)..
July 4, 2013
Rabindra ‘Danny’ Jaggernauth, president of T&T Coalition of Services Industries (TTCSI), is warning that economic diversification can be undermined if urgent attention is not paid in creating an efficient and viable e-commerce environment.
Jaggernauth was speaking on June 21 at TTCSI’s annual meeting, which was held at the Hilton Trinidad Hotel, Port-of-Spain.
He said TTCSI would continue to work assiduously to provide a favourable environment for the services sector.
He said for 2013, the TTCSI would be providing specific ICT–related training to the services sector to further build capacity and increase the sector’s competence.
However, Jaggernauth said the Government must play its role in creating an enabling environment.
“We have to collectively transform the e-commerce environment in T&T from a simple online information to a full-fledged electronic marketplace, which involves online transaction processing and online payments.”
He said the Government has to urgently ensure full proclamation or passage of the following:
• Data protection Ac
• Electronics Transaction Bill
• Amendments to the Audit and Exchequer Act
• Cyber security legislation.
“Meanwhile, the private sector and, in particular, the banking sector, has to establish a local e-payment facility so that payments online transactions by local businesses can be handle with local payment facilities.”
“This is a major deterrent to the uptake of e-commerce in the country and a negative factor in the diversification of the economy.
He said data from UNCTAD’s E-Commerce and Development Reports of 2004, 2012 and 2013 made it clear that increased e-commerce activity is a viable path to sustainable economic diversification.
He said according to Forrester and Goldman Sachs, the global e-commerce activity would top US$1 trillion in 2013.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, e-commerce has grown from US$1.6 billion to US$43 billion in the last decade.
But according to UNCTAD, the bulk of that activity is generated by Latin America, with Brazil accounting for 59 per cent of the Latin America and Caribbean e-commerce market share.
T&T’s e-commerce activity negligible
Describing the local scenario, Jaggernauth said, “In T&T, we have a 52 per cent rate of Internet penetration, a broadband infrastructure that has excess capacity and relatively low cost of access. Yet, activity in the e-commerce market space is negligible.
He said e-commerce is very important, as is one way of achieving service sector growth.
Jaggernauth said at the moment, stakeholders are still unable to transact business online with the T&T Government, for example payment of VAT and other taxes.
“The Global Information Technology 2013 report ranked T&T 71st in terms of starting a business; dropping five spots from 2012 report. T&T fared even worse in terms of business-related procedures and processes.”
He said e-commerce; m-commerce and e-payments hold great potential and present tremendous opportunities for small- and medium-sized entrepreneurs, as well as large firms in T&T.
He said besides access to new and bigger markets, such electronic mediated trade can help foster reduced costs and faster turnaround times by streamlining and integrating processes along the entire value chain.
He said e-commerce, m-commerce and e-payments involve significantly more than the mere buying and selling of goods and services over the Internet.
“Ultimately, it can encompass the total reorganisation of business processes to enable effective operation in a networked, electronic environment.”
Jaggernauth said in order for T&T to attain an effective and viable e-commerce environment there must be a collaborative effort from the Government and the private sector.
At the TTCSI’s June annual meeting held at the Hilton Trinidad, members got an opportunity to review the organisation’s performance for 2012.
Of particular interest were several pieces of unique research conducted by the TTCSI; export promotion activities; capacity building initiatives and advocacy efforts.
Nirad Tewarie, TTCSI’s chief executive officer, said the business support organisation played a key role in facilitating discussion with the Government’s proposed company for the creative industries and assisted several service providers to gain access in the European and Latin American markets.
He said TTCSI has provided opportunities for networking with industry leaders and policymakers, including heads of its 46-member associations, ministers of government and the secretary general of Caricom.
Tewarie said as a result of the work done by TTCSI, popular soca artiste Kees Dieffenthaller would be performing at a summer festival in Brussels, while local ICT firms have formed partnerships with companies in Central America and fashion designers are poised to break into the European markets.