Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 9th 2014 Contents OCTOBER 2014 • WEEK TWO www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
NEWS | BG5
Mahabir's vision is to increase exports
by 30 per cent, though globally, flour
has had challenges. But the United
States market is not a primary market
for flour, it may become a market for
"What we have done in the last two
months is recalculated our costs to
look at what is the margin we can
actually ship, determining through
variable costs and a margin that will
allow us to move."
The taste patterns of the market has
changed globally, said Mahabir, and
demand is now leaning towards health-
"We are now moving into crack
wheat, which is a product that looks
like wheat, which is in larger chunks,
but the consistency in the final product
is similar to what you get in a white
bread. People are moving away from
the pure white flour. When we strip
wheat, we take out a lot of the com-
ponents to give us this white flour.
What you find is that the industry has
moved to whole grain products."
"Lifestyles are changing, people cook
less at home. We supply to a lot of
the big customers in the country, like
KISS, Bermudez and Linda's and we
have to constantly innovate our prod-
ucts to give them better yields, more
Fish farming is also lucrative for
NFM and could rival chicken farm-
"There is a new phenomenon now
in terms of fish and fish farming. It's
an area we want to target in a big way
to produce the feed. The big issue with
all of these products has been: at what
price can you produce the feed to make
it cost competitive?"
Mahabir on leadership
Commenting on the expectation that
NFM's performance will improve,
Mahabir said he welcomed the chal-
"I've got a long track record of chang-
ing companies here, Jamaica with the
TCL group. I thrive on (the negative
press) because if there is nothing for
me to fix, there is no need for me to
be here. It is like what we did with e-
TecK, we took an organisation that lost
its way, fix it, created InvesTT, which
is the premier investment promotion
agency for the country, opened up
Tamana, which was 15 years in the mak-
ing and they (detractors) said we could
not have opened. We built the Tobago
hotel, which they said wasn't going to
be done because six years it was closed
Regarding the management structure,
he said two new managers were hired.
One is the general manager of business
support services. Mahabir added that
one of the key responsibilities of that
position would be to create a corporate
plan for NFM.
Secondly, general manager of finance.
With negotiations for the next collective
period beginning next month, Mahabir
is confident it would go smoothly.
In August 2013 and in March 2014,
the Government offered two discounts
through NFM. Careful not to disclose
the cost of those discounts, Mahabir
said: "The good thing about it is the
Government has totally reimbursed us
for the discount that we gave. It is an
initiative of the Government. The Gov-
erment is not asking us to take out
money from our pockets. Remember,
you have minority shareholders which
you cannot disenfranchise."
According to the annual report for
the period ended December 31, 2014,
and accounted for under account receiv-
ables, NFM stated:
"Included in accounts receivable and
prepayments is $3.6 million due from
the Government of the Republic of T&T.
This amount is as a result of the com-
pany offering discounts to customers
to pass on to the public on specific
products in December 2013 at the
request of the GORTT."
Mahabir said the amount paid by the
Government would be disclosed in the
third quarter results.
NFM's finances are under a micro-
scope as projections have been made
for sales, cost and grain purchasing.
"It is very important for us to improve
our controls both on the information
and communications technology and
the financial side and physically, in terms
of how things are moved around and
how we track products."
Looking at the cash position, accord-
ing to the annual report, cash and cash
equivalents for the year ended December
31, 2013, was $96.6 million compared
to the same period in 2012 which was
Asked whether NFM should be pri-
vatised, he said: "NFM is a good balance
in terms of the capital structure. What
we need is a privatisation of the way
we think and do business."
Leadership going forward
According to the weekly bulletin
produced by T&T Stock Exchange:
NFM has informed the stock ex-
change that at the 41st annual gen-
eral meeting of NFM held on
September 18, 2014, the following
directors were re-elected for a term
commencing September 18, 2014,
to the close of the next annual
meeting of shareholders:
• Mike Bazie
• Cindy Sadaphal
• Lloyd Mungal
• Aleena Ali
• Lalita Ramrakha
• Lynette Abraham
• Ross Alexander
• Karen Tom Yew
• Khali Mohammed
Nadia Abdool declined to offer
herself for re-election. In addition,
Valmiki Maharaj was appointed a
director until the close of the next
annual meeting of shareholders.
NFM looks to
From Page 4
Economic growth was "unexpectedly flat"
in the first quarter (Q1) of 2014, the
Central Bank of T&T said in its Eco-
nomic Bulletin released on Tuesday.
The reason, not unheard before: "A sharp falloff
in energy sector production largely offset the moderate
growth momentum in the non-energy sector.
Unplanned interruptions in drilling operations at
bpTT's Savonette platform -- the company's largest
production platform -- severely dampened output in
the energy sector. Planned maintenance at Petrotrin's
refinery facilities also contributed to the sharp con-
traction in energy production."
Petrotrin production plummeted to lows not seen
since the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2012. In Q1, the
Petrotrin refinery throughput fell to 6,961,900 barrels,
almost half of the previous quarter's (Q4 2013)
12,172,800 barrels. Compared to Q1 2013, the fall in
refinery throughput was from a cliff 10 million barrels
"Growth in the non-energy sector continued to
be primarily driven by the finance, insurance and
real estate, distribution and construction sub-sectors,"
the Central Bank said.
Latest available official labour statistics suggest
the unemployment situation improved in the fourth
quarter of 2013, the Central Bank said. The unem-
ployment rate fell to 3.8 per cent in the fourth quarter
of 2013, from a rate of 4.7 per cent in the correspon-
ding period of 2012. However, the decline in the
unemployment rate was more reflective of an increase
in job placements, the bank said.
The bulletin said: "Preliminary data for 2014 suggest
even though labour market conditions are stabilizing,
specific skill shortages are emerging, especially in
the manufacturing and services sectors. The number
of retrenchment notices filed with the Ministry of
Labour and Small and Micro Enterprise Development
increased marginally in the first half of 2014 when
compared with the corresponding period of 2013."
Central Bank hiring spikes
The Central Bank also had labour news. Hiring
spiked almost 20 per cent in 2013, according to an
annex on operating results up to August 2014. The
bank's staff complement rose from the 480 level it
had been since at least 2009 to the 580 level in 2013.
Managerial, administrative and supervisory staff rose
from 216 in 2012 to 268 in 2013, while clerical, sec-
retarial and manipulative staff rose from 270 in 2012
to 310 in 2013.
As for the money with which it operates, the Central
Bank's net operating surplus fell from $613,673 in
2012 to $437,710 in 2013. Since it fell from from
$1,157,764 in 2009 to $531,744 in 2010, the bank's
net operating surplus has stayed below $1 million,
hiccuping to $535,807 in 2011, and $613,673 in 2012.
The Central Bank's total assets, total deposits and
total external assets, however, stayed in their ranges
since 2009, according to the annex.
Turning to inflation, the Economic Bulletin said
headline inflation slowed in the first six months of
2014 as food price inflation decelerated. During the
first half (H1) of 2014, headline inflation slowed to
3.4 per cent versus 6.3 per cent in H1 2013.
The bulletin said that in H1 2014, core inflation,
which excludes food prices, averaged 2.6 per cent
versus 2.2 per cent in H1 2013. Food inflation averaged
4.4 per cent in H1 2014 versus 11.4 per cent in H1
2013. "However, in recent months, headline inflation
accelerated because of an overwhelming upturn in
food inflation," the bulletin said.
Inflation hits 22-month high
Headline inflation accelerated to 7.4 per cent in
August 2014, a 22-month high, as food inflation
climbed 14.8 per cent, offsetting a deceleration in
core inflation to 1.4 per cent, the bulletin said.
The bank also gave the reason for the almost $2
billion fiscal surplus during the fiirst half of fiscal
2013/2014. "The surplus reflected an increase in rev-
enue and a marginal decline in expenditure compared
with the corresponding nine months of fiscal
2012/2013. Total government revenue increased by
3.6 per cent to $41,499.5 million, largely on account
of higher crude oil prices and despite a fall in crude
oil production," the bulletin said.
First quarter 2014
growth unexpectedly flat
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