Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 7th 2014 Contents A25
letters on sunday
Over the last three years, I have
voiced my concerns through various
platforms including the T&T Chamber
of Industry and Commerce, with little
Some of the burning issues that I
would like to highlight are:
Recently, KFC made a public an-
nouncement apologising for the poor
service at its outlets, which they at-
tributed to the shortage of labour.
I have sat on several committees,
including the most recent discussions
with the Minister of Labour held by
the T&T Chamber of Industry and
Commerce on this issue.
To date, there has been no mean-
ingful progress on the shortage of
labour being experienced by the busi-
ness community. One possible solu-
tion to this problem might be to
provide a reprieve from taxes for sen-
iors over the age of 55, to encourage
them to return to the job market.
Foreign exchange shortage
The business community continues
to be impeded by the ongoing short-
age of foreign exchange within the fi-
nancial system. This has especially
hurt importers, who rely on a stable
supply of foreign exchange in order to
meet our commitments to our foreign
We continue to receive less than
adequate supplies of foreign ex-
change and as a result, our credit with
our suppliers continues to be at risk.
Should we as importers lose
favourable credit terms with our sup-
pliers which we have worked so hard
to build up over the years? We would
be forced, as a consequence, to resort
to alternative forms of financing our
import bills, which would undoubtedly
lead to higher costs of imports and
higher prices to consumers.
It is inhumane, the manner in which
the wrecking service operates.
Whilst I do not support indiscrimi-
nate or illegal parking, I believe there
are alternative solutions that may be
considered. Firstly, we need to exam-
ine the root cause(s) of the problem,
which may include inadequate parking
infrastructure; an inadequate trans-
portation system and the centralisa-
tion of government services among
others. We can then seek to develop
and put in place a more effective solu-
tion. In the interim, we must recog-
nise the inherent limitations given the
existence of the present problems.
We should therefore allow businesses
and consumers some form of tempo-
rary reprieve until a more permanent
solution can be found and imple-
Overprotection of Caricom
The imposition of high import du-
ties, taxes and surcharges on dried
fruits, raisins and currants, red beans,
sugar, and chicken. I recommended
that the T&T Chamber of Commerce
needed a sub-committee on food. To
date, I am still awaiting an answer.
Arima, where my business is lo-
cated, has become a hotbed for crimi-
nal activity. In order to stem this
rampant increase in crime, what is re-
quired is a greater police presence
within our cities and boroughs.
The presence of uniformed police
officers on the ground will serve to
control the traffic situation and act as
a deterrent to intended criminals. An-
other important consideration is the
decriminalisation of marijuana, which
will serve to adjust the supply/de-
mand imbalance and to provide a reg-
ulatory framework governing the sale
of this drug.
There is an increase in vending
throughout the country. Whilst most
businesses are required to pay staff
costs, taxes and national insurance,
this is not the case for vendors.
I am not certain whether our coun-
try is on a sustainable growth path or
whether it is in a position to survive a
crisis in the oil and gas sector, which
impacts the taxes and the foreign ex-
change our country earns from the
energy sector. We are currently wit-
nessing the impact of the shale revo-
lution, which has caused oil and
natural gas prices to plummet.
As I write, the price of West Texas
Intermediate has fallen to US $65.63
per barrel, and the price of Brent
Crude Oil has fallen below US $70 per
barrel and continues to be in free fall.
The price of natural gas remains
below US $4 per MMBtu. As you are
aware, revenue earned from energy
makes up 35 per cent of our earnings.
How are we therefore, as a nation, to
sustain all of the social programmes,
health benefits, not forgetting the ed-
What about food security, and
where will the foreign exchange come
from? Over the past 50 years, various
governments have been supporting
local manufacturing by protectionism
through high taxes on similar prod-
ucts which are imported. Not forget-
ting the free concessions given to
manufacturers, yet we see manufac-
turers being a net user of four per
cent of foreign exchange.
We should ask ourselves, whether
supporting manufacturers is an alter-
native for oil and gas.
With every new government since
1986, there has been mass confusion.
There's no time to concentrate on the
burning issues facing us.
Despite my very best efforts and
countless contributions, as well as
those of my colleagues and con-
temporaries, I have yet to see any of
those issues that have been raised be
resolved in any meaningful way.
I remain very committed to my
beloved country and continue to make
myself available should there be a
need for me to make a contribution in
any way to its development.
FACING OUR COUNTRY
An aerial photograph of the Joint Trade Union Movement's march against
corruption in Port-of-Spain on Friday .
PHOTO COURTESY IERE EYE AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHY
MARCH AGAINST CORRUPTION
December 7, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
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