Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 8th 2015 Contents JANUARY 2015 • WEEK TWO www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
NEWS | BG7
In his statement to the Business Guardian on Tuesday,
Ramesh Ramdeen, CEO of the Manufacturers Association
(TTMA) called on the Government to plan "prudently" in 2015
and to diversify and make the economy more efficient.
"The year 2014 was a good one for the local manufacturing
economy, the TTMA was able to successfully work with the
Minister of Finance to address the VAT problems the business
community was having as well as lobby with other business
organisations to have the government Procurement Bill debated
and passed in both houses.
"For this, the TTMA is grateful and look forward to greater
things in 2015. At the same time, the falling oil and gas prices
is of concern and thus now more than ever there is need for
prudent planning to move the economy forward. The TTMA,
however, remains optimistic the economy is on sound footing.
T&T needs to plan for the future and place great emphasis
on the promotion and growth of the non-energy sector of the
country and not continue to have all its eggs in one basket;
otherwise external shocks (such as falling oil and gas prices)
will be hard to get over."
He said our manufacturing sector is competitive and can
compete both regionally and internationally but there are
issues like fixing problems on the ports that need to be
"What we would want is for the Government to continue
to create the opportunities in terms of market access in Latin
and Central America and, at the same time, work to address
the supply side constraints that affect manufacturing. So, for
example, we need to fix the poor functioning of the chemistry
food and drug division of T&T. This is a priority for us in
2015. Improve the operations at the ports, and address the
shortcomings with border agencies such as customs. They
have improved their effectiveness somewhat but there are still
problems such as human resource issues," he said.
To diversify the economy, he believes that the Government
has to address the issues like shortage of foreign currency in
"We need to not only talk diversification this year, we need
to implement measures that will aid in this regard. So issues
such as the limitation in terms of accessibility of foreign
exchange (another major concern and priority item for the
TTMA in 2015), needs to be addressed. Passage of the Beverage
Container Bill and the Fair Trading Bill will create an enabling
environment that will allow for the continued growth and
sustainability of the non-energy sector of the economy."
The shortage of labour is also a problem for the manufacturing
sector, he said.
"Addressing the labour shortage problem (third major issue
for the TTMA to be addressed in 2015) has to be tackled head
on. We commend the work the Minister Fazal Karim (and his
agencies such as the MIC Institute of Technology) is doing,
however, more needs to be done in this regard. Maybe there
is need for a tripartite committee to be form to find permanent
answers to the labour shortage problems," he said.
Ramdeen said the manufacturing sector is the country s
second largest employer and is important in diversifying the
"If the forecast for continued falling oil and gas prices is
correct, we need to put sustainable measures in place to carry
the economy forward. The manufacturing sector is integral
in this process. It is a significant earner of foreign exchange.
With a thriving non-energy sector in place, TTMA is confident
that the economy can continue to grow and prosper in the
In a statement on Tuesday, the Energy Chamber said that
the fall in energy prices has placed the energy sector in "sharp
focus" in 2015.
"The fundamental reforms that are needed to sustain the
energy industry remain the same as they were when prices
were high. The key to sustaining the energy sector is to ensure
we are able to continue to attract investment into upstream
oil and gas production and ensure that we are able to diversify
our exports. This means having a competitive investment
climate able to attract global capital and strong local companies
able to compete in the local and international markets. Gov-
ernment policy should support investments with the objective
of building competitiveness, rather than subsidising consump-
Point Fortin/ South
The Point Fortin/South Western Chamber also provided its
wish list for 2015 by e-mail on Monday.
1. Construction of the Point Fortin Hospital, which was
promised since in the 2011 budget presentation, is still to be
started. They hope to see it started and completed this year.
2. Major industry in La Brea industrial estate: The Union
Industrial Estate and Labidco Industrial Estate in La Brea still
need to be fully utilised.
3. The chamber said the eTecK space in Point Fortin must
be fully operationalised. This is seen as a driver of the diver-
sification thrust nationally. The chamber was very disappointed
to learn that the Government took a decision to use that very
site to construct the Point Fortin Hospital. They await a decision
on a new site, with the new time frames for infrastructure
development to readiness for business occupation.
4. With the expected developments such as the highway
from San Fernando, the water taxi, the planned development
of the eTecK industrial parks and Union Industrial Estate, the
natural progression would be one of increased economic oppor-
tunity in the south western peninsula. The chamber said plan-
ning must begin from now for the development of the Brighton
Port at La Brea to facilitate the development of trade. Also,
whether they consider manufacturing, agro-processing, or
simply repackaging for re-export, La Brea would be the ideal
port location for any of these processes in the south western
5. The chamber hoped to see improvements in crime pre-
vention and detection. They said whether or not the country
continues with the "elusive 21st century policing," or see a
new initiative with a new crime plan, in its simplest form the
chamber wants to see more police visibly patrolling on our
streets, and much higher detection and conviction rates.
Dr Roger Hosein, senior lecturer of Economics at the Uni-
versity of the West Indies (UWI), St Augustine campus, said
the Government would need to be "creative" in dealing with
the economic challenges in the year ahead.
"For 2015 and indeed in my view for the period 2015 to
2021, the T&T economy will need to be creative in order to
realise economic growth in the two per cent to four per cent
zone. For the time period 2010 to 2014, that real economic
growth has averaged less than one per cent, as compared to
4.6 per cent in the previous five years and eight per cent in
the five-year period 2000-2004 and six per cent in the five-
year period before that," he said.
Hosein also said the decades old argument of economic
diversification must become a reality.
"Just as importantly the diversification of the non-petroleum
part of the economy becomes a real front burner issue and
the economy will need to make more practical use of the
growth poles and eTecK parks. Pushing the growth poles can
help to bring underutilised and unutilised resources in the
southwest and north coast of Trinidad and north Tobago into
greater use. Coinciding the growth pole and the e Teck Park
together will bring cluster-based manufacturing activities to
these regions with multiple benefits," he said.
He said the Government also needs to look at its social
welfare systems and make them for efficient.
"The Government will also, at some point, have to consider
modifying its dole-like, make-work system so more labour
becomes available to the private sector rather than being locked
into areas of underemployment as occurs with our various
Hosein argues that T&T s economy is now in need of urgent
reform and it is now critical more than ever.
"This coming five year period 2015 to 2020 more than any
other period since 1967 to 1971 is one where urgent structural
transformation of the economy has to be the frontline issue.
Failure to do this in a reasoned way would perhaps see this
country seeking multilateral assistance within the next few
years, especially if fiscal relations continue as at present. More
than ever the voice of civil society has a role to play."
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