Trinidad & Tobago IFC targets 5-year business plan

Trinidad & Tobago intends to set up its own international financial centre (IFC) that would reach self-sufficiency within the coming half-decade, if business plans now being considered by the government come to fruition a business gathering in London has heard.

Varun Maharaj, CEO of Trinidad & Tobago IFC, outlined the developments as they are being proposed in draft legislation, currently with departments such as the country’s Ministry of Finance, before being put to the full Parliament for approval within the next six to 12 months.

The legislation would put in place a principles based approach to regulation intended to facilitate the development of an IFC sitting within its own special regulatory zone according to internationally accepted best practice norms. The intention, Maharaj said, is to facilitate an onshore as opposed to offshore financial base.

The development of a financial services authority to oversee regulated entities is one of three legs that the new IFC business development plan envisages: the other two include a business development arm, and a court for ensuring commercial dispute resolution.

The business focus of the IFC will include investment banking, asset management, BPO shared services and professional services. And the IFC will be positioned as a centre for the Latin America and Caribbean regions.

Regulations need to be put in place to attract international players and “engender trust” in the financial centre, Maharaj added.

Trinidad & Tobago already has a history of managing complex financial transactions, with governments and corporations from Belize to Suriname coming to the jurisdiction to source funding.

And there is ongoing upskilling of the human resources required to support the development of an IFC, with the likes of Canada’s Scotiabank and Royal Bank of Canada already instituting “centres of excellence” in the jurisdiction to serve the northern Caribbean and even some Canadian business, Maharaj noted.

The IFC business plan, developed together with consultant McKinsey, is estimated to provide TT$5bn in the first five years.

Maharaj admitted, however, that initiation of the IFC will rely heavily on expat skills. This means that salaries are expected to form a significant part of the development costs of the IFC in its early years. The TT IFC recently signed an agreement with the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC), defined as a “strategic partnership”, which will see Maharaj join the CWEIC Advisory Board.

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Jonathan Boyd
Editorial Director of Open Door Media Publishing Ltd, and Editor of InvestmentEurope. Jonathan has over two decades of media experience in Japan, Australia, Canada and the UK. Over the past 16 years he has been based in London writing about funds and investments . From editing the newsletter of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in Japan in the 1990s he now focuses on Nordic markets for InvestmentEurope.

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