Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 13th 2014 Contents A19
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The first vice president the Oilfield
Workers Trade Union (OWTU), Carl-
ton Gibson has said that the union is
looking into the matter of PriceSmart s
workers workers walking off the job on
Tuesday night because they were not
paid their full wages.
Gibson said: "Last week workers
were short paid and it s believed that
this is linked to an employee who had
been charge with fraud. The union has
called on management to pay the
workers their full wages. The company
knows it must at least pay the workers
the basic 40 hours a week wages," he
told the Guardian by phone yesterday.
Yesterday, a worker at the Port-of-
Spain branch of PriceSmart, who asked
not to be named, said he and ten other
workers walked off the job at the
PriceSmart Invaders Bay, because
management did not keep a promise to
pay them their full salary by Tuesday.
"We told our supervisors that we
cannot work anymore and we walked
off the job. Only a few workers like the
forklift operators stayed back. We are
fortnightly paid workers and only got
part of our salaries last week," he said.
The worker said management asked
them to come in and discuss the prob-
lems but he called it "disrespect" as he
said night shift workers work from 10
pm to 6 am and any morning meeting
"would not make sense."
Attempts to get PriceSmart s man-
agement by phone proved unsuccess-
In Bridgetown, Barbados
Caribbean countries are still
struggling to recover and return to
growth after the global economic
recession and the pivotal role of
the private sector in that process
was highlighted on Tuesday, the
first day of the Caribbean
Exporters Colloquium at the Hilton
Hosted by the Caribbean Export
Development Agency (Caribbean
Export) in collaboration with GIZ
and the European Union, the two-
day event focused on the Caribbean s
export performance in light of devel-
opments at the global level.
Caribbean Export executive direc-
tor, Pamela Coke-Hamilton, who
highlighted the need for export diver-
sification, said there was a major
role for the region s private sector
in building the economic resilience
needed to cope with external shocks.
"There is an urgent need to sup-
port the private sector and strength-
en their capacity to export," she told
government officials and represen-
tatives from Caricom and Cariforum
states at the high level discussions.
Coke-Hamilton said there was
need for alternative ways of con-
tributing to GDP and small and
medium enterprises (SMEs) must
be more innovative.
She said one of the biggest chal-
lenges was access to finance as banks
in the region are often hampered in
their efforts to support SMEs.
Noting that 70 per cent of the
Caribbean s GDP comes from the
services sector with tourism as the
biggest industry in that sector, Coke-
Hamilton called for a shift in mar-
She said: "We continue to sell
tourism as we did 50 years ago. The
world has shifted and we need to
adjust our tourism product to
address that shift."
Coke-Hamilton assigned grades
ranging from a B- to an F in giving
the report card on various areas of
export-related performance in the
region at the Caribbean Exporters
Colloquium 2014 being held in
Bridgetown, Barbados, under the
theme "Building Economic Resilience
in the Caribbean".
Speaking during the event s first
session entitled "Making the Grade:
An Examination of the Region s
Export Performance", she said the
region earned a B- grade for overall
economic performance with eco-
nomic growth offset by high fiscal
and external debt.
Economic growth for the region
is projected at 2.5 per cent for 2014,
down from three per cent in 2013,
Coke-Hamilton said. Regional GDP
for the area was US$132 billion, with
the Dominican Republic having the
largest share, followed by Trinidad
and Tobago, Jamaica and Barbados.
Total exports for the region is
US$51 billion, with services repre-
senting 62 per cent.
Other grades included a B- for
conformity to international standards
and a sub-par D grade for innova-
Export diversification is another
concern. "We still rely on what we
did 50 years ago, and we have to get
beyond that," Coke-Hamilton said.
The role of the private sector in
the region s economic development
earned a C grade. Branding and intel-
lectual property rights, as well as
access to finance, performed less
well, both earning C- grades.
"Our banks tend not to ascribe
value to an idea," Coke-Hamilton
said, with businesses needing to look
at non-traditional providers for cap-
ital and investment.
For global logistics and shipping,
the region performed at a satisfactory
level with a grade of C+ with easy
accessibility from the region to loca-
tions like Miami, New York and Lon-
But the worst performing area was
for intra-regional logistics and ship-
ping, which received a failing grade
"If we don t address it, everything
else becomes, frankly, theoretical,"
But despite the mediocre report
card, the region may have a brighter
future, according to panellist Ashish
Shah, director of the division of
country programmes at the Inter-
national Trade Centre.
"I stand convinced that the turn-
ing point has come," Shah said.
"The report card is a very good
C in my view," and could soon
improve to a B+, Shah said. "To suc-
ceed in trade you have to be able to
compete and be able to out compete
your competitors," Shah said. The
focus on small and medium busi-
nesses (SMBs) is most important,"
Professor Victor Bulmer Thomas,
honorary professor at University Col-
lege, London and professor emeritus
of London University noted the dan-
ger of looking at region-wide sta-
tistics, as they are heavily influenced
by the performance of one country.
"Everything is about Trinidad and
Tobago," Bulmer-Thomas said.
Bulmer-Thomas analysed 27 indi-
vidual territories in the region by
looking at their individual economic
performance. Using his analysis, the
top-rated country for the region was
Cuba which received a top score of
5, followed by Haiti at 4.
Cuba benefitted from having
access to all sorts of special arrange-
ments, Thomas said. e said one
example was that the country gets
Chinese tourists "in numbers that
other countries can only dream of".
The export-led growth message
had been received "loud and clear,"
across the region, Bulmer Thomas
said. But there has to be a "much
greater effort" put into the meas-
urement or metrics.
Region's export performance graded
Union probing walk-off
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