Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 30th 2015 Contents Asked whether he thinks a lot is expected of him in this
new role as TTMA President, he said: "High expectations
didn t start with my accession to the presidency at TTMA.
With everything I do I suppose there are high expectations.
You take the ups with the downs. You make mistakes, you
get somethings right too, you learn and move on and you try
to do better. What is important is the power of intention," he
There is no politics in TTMA s affairs, Balgobin said.
"Independent senators don t have a political affiliation. We
are chosen by the President and not by any political party. At
various stages you would vote for or against whatever gov-
ernment wants to pilot through the Parliament. You live in
a small society. People are going to have their views and that s
okay. I don t think there is the risk of politicisation of TTMA.
I am sure there are members of the TTMA who know the
political directorate much better than I do."
Balgobin s many roles and responsibilities will never take
him away from being a father to his three children, Balgobin
said. At the end of the day, "I am just a citizen."
The TTMA is not wedded to one solution to plug the labour
shortage, Balgobin said. But, he added, what is clear is there
is need to find a solution to the problem and the TTMA is
keen to find that solution with all stakeholders.
"It s not enough to say that manufacturers make huge invest-
ments in equipment, in real estate and then you can t pro-
duce-for want of labour."
Debate on the issue deepened in 2014, when members of
the business community signalled that there was need to find
a solution to the problem. Suggesting that the problem could
be with the structure of tertiary education system, Balgobin
said there "continues to be a gap between education and the
economic system. What I am hoping to do at the TTMA, is
see how we can use the TTMA to bring those two systems
closer together, at least education and the manufacturing eco-
system so we can have a better alignment."
In January 2015, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar
met with members of the business community. At that meeting,
both AmCham and TTMA expressed concerns over the labour
shortage, and were asked to devise a plan to filter workers
from CEPEP into the private sector. That plan was presented
to Trade, Industry, Investment and Communication Minister,
Vasant Bharath, who was supposed to meet with TTMA and
AmCham after Wednesday s AGM but the meeting was post-
Balgobin, commenting on the plan, said he supports it
because it allows workers to learn new skills which make them
more and more economically competitive over time.
"They are actually able to add value wherever they are. The
idea is to take some of the pool who may be able to work in
a manufacturing environment and over time ease them off
the dependence on CEPEP and state funding. Have them
absorbed in the manufacturing sector. It (the filtering of workers
into the private sector) is a worthy idea, we should try it. We
don t know if it will work or not, until we try it.
Asked whether the plan would create inflationary pressures,
he said the expectation is it would not since the worker would
not be earning a double income but one income.
Another initiative to deal with the labour shortage is to
create the Retirees Return-to-Work (RRW) programme. This
is simply retired people returning to the workforce.
Commenting on it, Balgobin said the TTMA is looking at
that option with a great deal of interest. Asked whether the
RRW initiative would alter the retirement age, he said:
"I don t think there is any systemic risk of that. If people
want to retire and stop working, then they are certainly entitled
to do that. They would have made provisions for their pensions
and so on. If some people retire and they don t want to stop
working then they would be free to continue working and
many of them do. Nowadays, 60 is young. T&T has a vibrant
economy that continues to grow so I think there s room for
In his inaugural speech, Balgobin said he had seven goals
which he hoped to achieve during his presidency. Included in
those goals is to develop a closer relationship with trade unions.
Trade unions, he said, are not hostile at all. They are very col-
It is dependent on management and leaders to engage labour
unions because "everyone wants the same thing. You want
the business to do well, and so the people can do well."
At the same time, the laws of the Industrial Court need to
be updated to reflect a modern society which is becoming
"I have found that it is possible to avoid the Court if you
treat with your people properly. What do people want? They
want to be treated well. They don t want to be de-humanised.
They want to be respected, recognised even. They don t want
to be cursed at, or spat upon, or ill-treated or discriminated
against, that s what people want."
The role of leaders in businesses such as: chief executives,
chairmen, middle managers, and senior executives is important
to dealing with labour disputes, said Balgobin.
US currency shortage
Despite injections into the economy of more than US $1
billion in 2014, the problem of a supply of US currency is an
issue. Balgobin said it is something which should not be over-
"The Central Bank has been very good at pumping more
forex into the system. I think that over time this issue will
iron itself out and normalise. I suspect why that pooling is
taking place, is because when bills come due, they can t be
paid. Many importers are buying from people who are ensuring
exports to T&T. Not paying your bill on time has a negative
and significant impact."
Without disclosing the details of the conversation, Balgobin
confirmed he has been contacted by the Plipdeco port President,
One of his tasks is to get closer to the stakeholders at the
Port-of-Spain Port to determine what can be done to better
"You want to be able to traverse the port system faster and
more efficiently. I think ports are committed to that and Cus-
toms is open to that as well."
Regarding the opening of the T&T embassy in Panama,
Balgobin said it represents another opportunity for his members
to look into another market.
APRIL 2015 • WEEK FIVE www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
COVER STORY | BG5
• President (2015-present), T&T Manufactur-
• Independent Senator (2010-present), Parlia-
ment of Republic of T&T
• Member (2010-present), Public Accounts
Enterprises Committee, Parliament of Republic
• Chairman (2015-present), Joint Select Com-
mittee on National Security, Parliament T&T
• Director (2004-present), Massy Holdings
• Director (2001-present), Arthur Lok Jack
Graduate School of Business, (T&T)
• Member (2009-present), rating committee,
Caribbean Credit Rating Agency (CariCRIS) T&T
• Deputy chairman (2008-present), Electrical
Industries Group T&T
• Director (2014-present), Trinidad Renais-
sance School T&T
• Chairman (2011-2014), Presentation College
San Fernando School Management Advisory
• Director (2009 to 2012), Brother Jerome
• Director (2003-2008), Youth Business of
• Chairman (2006 to 2010), Pt Lisas Indus-
trial Port Development Corporation T&T
• Member (2007), United Nations Principles
for responsible Management Education Task
Force (New York)
• Member (2006), Committee for the renam-
ing and redesign of National Awards T&T
• Independent Senator (Temporary, 2003 to
2009), Parliament of T&T
• Director (2005-2010), Telecommunications
Services of T&T
• Director (2004-2008), Association of MBAs
International Accreditation Advisory Board (UK)
• Advisory Trustee (2003-2008), Caribbean-
Central American Action (CCAA) (USA)
• Chairman and Member (2004 - 2008),
Prime Minister's Awards Committee on Innova-
tion in the Public Service
• Director (2004-2006), Dispute Resolution
Centre, Chamber of Commerce of T&T
• Director (2002-2007), Chamber of E-com-
merce of T&T
• Director (2003-2006), Neal and Massy
Trading and Distribution group (West Indies)
• Director (2003), Central Bank of T&T
• Member (2003-2008), Civil Advisory Coun-
cil, Inter-American Development Bank (West In-
• Member (2003-2004), Steering Committee
of the University of T&T
• Member (2002-2004), Committee for the
establishment of a Wallerfield Technology Park
• Member (2004-2005), Steering Committee,
T&T Vision 2020 Task Force
• Member (2003-2005), Science and Technol-
ogy Sub-Committee, Vision 2020 T&T
• Academic Board Representative, (2003)
University Council, University of the West Indies
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