T&T Labour Minister: We want Trinis to return home

(Trinidad Express) In an effort to stymie the brain drain, the government has put various incentives in place to encourage emigrants to return home, Labour Minister Errol McLeod has said.

McLeod made the statement on Monday night during his contribution to the Finance Bill 2013 at the House of Representatives, Tower D, Waterfront Centre in Port of Spain.

“One area that requires greater attention in development of our economy is the role of returning citizens who possess skills and competencies in various disciplines,” McLeod said.

“Based on their experiences and their international exposure qualified returning citizens would be instrumental particularly in contributing to the diversification of our economy,” McLeod said. He said the “wealth of knowledge” that can be obtained from returning skills and competencies would help to propel our economy.

“Greater emphasis must be placed on attracting and retaining such individuals as a means of preventing the brain drain of our economy. A number of people are coming back home and a number more could be encouraged to come back home as the more developed economies struggle to get back on to steadier footing,” he said.

Clause 15 of the Finance Bill 2013 seeks to amend the Customs Act “to support ease of doing business and help to create an environment to help nationals living abroad to return home and set up businesses here and so set about reducing the brain drain with which we are plagued”, McLeod said. “Two major clauses include full relief from motor vehicle tax in some cases and an increase in the value of household effects which may be admitted without tax from $100,000 to $250,000 these significant tax concessions aim to encourage and facilitate the return of citizens who have resided abroad for at least five consecutive years with the recognition of the advantages that these persons may bring to this country such as specialised skills and experience which may have beneficial effects on the local economy,” McLeod said. While seeking to encourage emigrants to return home, McLeod said the government is also “expanding the opportunities for qualified persons to work abroad”. “On the other side of the coin we are expanding opportunities for qualified individuals to work abroad and gain valuable skills in a different work environment and come back home and do even more justice to Trinidad and Tobago,” he said.

“In 2012 the wages earned by the 900 odd persons who we sent to the Canadian Agricultural Farm programme amounted to $70 million I do not know how much of that is remitted back here but it is a sizable sum of money and if we are going to make contributions out of such sums of money to assisting family and relatives and so on back in Trinidad and Tobago we are contributing important activity to the economy of Trinidad and Tobago,” he said.

McLeod said the Cabinet is also “exploring some opportunities in the energy sector in Alberta, Canada” for qualified nationals.

 

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