Effectively responding to inquiries from foreign investors is a critical first step towards attracting investment into desired sectors. However, a Global Investment Promotion Best Practices (GIPB) assessment in 2012 found that investment facilitation services in Trinidad and Tobago were in need of improvement, with investor inquiries handled at average levels compared to the rest of the world.
In line with World Bank recommendations, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago separated InvesTT from Evolving TecKnologies and Enterprise Development Company Limited (eTecK) as the country’s dedicated investment promotion agency. In addition, in an effort to diversify its economy, the Government developed a four-year sector development plan with disbursement of funds tied to the achievement of specific indicators. One of these indicators is improved handling of investor inquiries, by 20 percentage points by 2015 compared to the 2012 baseline.
For these reasons, Trinidad and Tobago needed to improve its investment facilitation services and requested a second GIPB assessment from the Bank. The 2013 GIPB assessment found that InvesTT had improved its inquiry handling performance by 7 percentage points compared to its 2012 results. In addition, it identified major areas in need of improvement: poor sector information, service inconsistency, and a need to place more emphasis on promotion as a key element of facilitation. The GIPB provided specific recommendations to address each of these areas. The Bank organized a workshop with senior policymakers to discuss a way forward, followed by a full-day working session with InvesTT’s President and staff to discuss the GIPB assessment results in more detail and develop an action plan for continued improvement.
The six detailed operational recommendations delivered to the Government in the 49-page results report, combined with the workshop discussions, increased implementation capacity for the client agency. This result will help the Government increase the quality of facilitation services offered to investors by minimizing service inconsistency, improving promotion of priority sectors, and strengthening customer service.
The GIPB informed Government policies and strategies. Senior officials from the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Investment, and Communications (MTIIC) including the Permanent Secretary, staff from Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E), Trade and Investment, Policy/Strategy, and members of the Board and management of InvesTT agreed that more attention needed to be paid to the newly identified priority sectors—among them information and communications technology (ICT), maritime, agribusiness, tourism, clean technologies and creative industries—to analyze further their competitiveness, develop winning value propositions, and make them a clear priority within InvesTT’s facilitation strategy. The new President of InvesTT joined the workshop and agreed with the recommendations in the report and expressed her commitment to developing new strategies.
By using two ‘mystery shopper’ investors, the GIPB assessment provided an objective measurement of InvesTT’s facilitation performance from the investors’ point of view and shed light on five specific areas for improvement. These included:
· Lack of follow-up to convert investor interest into strong leads.
· Inconsistency in the quality and depth of responses to investor inquiries.
· Limited efforts in promoting Trinidad & Tobago and its key sectors online and offline.
· Less than optimal customer service as a result of a burdensome inquiry screening mechanism.
InvesTT is now considering instituting its own mystery shopper testing as a means to monitor the level of services offered to investors.