Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 11th 2015 Contents JUNE 2015 • WEEK TWO www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
COVER STORY | BG5
wanting to set up shop in T&T but cannot
find personnel to meet their needs. Look at
the Eastern Caribbean now. They have high
unemployment and need jobs and T&T has
a high need for skilled labour."
On the issue of crime, he said the authorities
must continue to solve murders and burglaries
but it must also look at white collar crime.
"If you read the last financial intelligence
unit (FIU) report, there has been somewhere
close to $1 billion in transactions and suspicious
activity reports (SARs). When you map that
with growth in the financial services sector,
requirement for financial rules and regulations
are important. I am not diminishing homicides
and murders either."
Another element that deals with compet-
itiveness is public procurement and he called
the new Public Procurement Act a "game-
changing" piece of legislation.
President Anthony Carmona has assented
to the Public Procurement and Disposal of
Public Property Act, 2015 but it has not been
"I hope to see the effect it has in changing
the behaviour and patterns of how public pro-
curement takes place. The legislation is per-
vasive as it deals with how public money is
spent. Passing the act was one of the extraor-
dinary moments. A wide caucus of groups
have pushed for this legislation."
Suryadevara said the situation of a shortage
of US currency is not a quick fix and dialogue
"The United States is our biggest trading
partner. The demand for US dollars is obviously
going to be a point that will be under continued
discussion so it is a fluid situation. There is
no quick fix for this."
He said a lot will depend on the imminent
"The outlook is somewhat skewed. Clearly
investors will like to see a decision in place
for the government of the next term to be able
to base the investment decisions on. The pos-
sibility of a new government would tend to
advise an investor to wait and see any new
policy shifts. So there is a certain level of hes-
itancy that will eventually subsidise."
He forecasts lower economic growth in the
"The years of using enjoying six per cent
to eight per cent GDP growth may not be in
our near term. But we have been doing a fair
job at balancing where we are."
On the question of subsidies, he thinks that
the current levels are unsustainable and he
said it is "worrisome" that the cut in the deficit
would not be attained for the 2016 to 2017 as
has been outlined by the Finance Minister.
"The fuel subsidy over the last three years
is anywhere between $4 to $6 billion and
almost 10 per cent of the entire budget.
Between healthcare, education, the govern-
ment s subventions to Caribbean Airline (CAL)
we must look at what we will do because I
am not in favour of tax increases."
He said this leads to the bigger question of
how the government will generate future rev-
enue because, at the moment, it comes from
energy companies royalties and now energy
prices are low.
"We are not in support of increased taxation
but a more efficient form of tax collection."
He drew the example of Venezuela which
has traditionally had the lowest fuel prices at
the pump and now there is the debate to raise
fuel prices as that country which continues
to experience economic challenges.
"The Government needs to rationalise all
that it is doing for us and really effect greater
efficiency and get to a balanced budget. The
debt profile has grown, it has not decreased."
One of the projects he would like to see
developed during his tenure as president of
AmCham is a pre-clearance arrangement
with the United States reached.
"Basically, you would clear security and
immigration in Piarco as if you arrived in
Miami, Houston or New York. Pre-clearance
is the step before global entry. This is basically
your passport scanned and then you enter
the US. Presently, what takes place is the
long lines. So given the balance of payment
with trade, given the technology transfer in
the energy sector, we have a strong linkage
with the US. Anywhere you can make that
travel component easier, we would like to
see it. We are hoping that the Government
would consider an application for pre-clear-
He also said they want to see more dialogue
on the Services of the Caribbean initiative.
This is for the attachment of services onto
the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) as right
now the CBI is preferential access for goods
and now AmCham would like to see services
"We are lobbying with Capitol Hill right
now to get services included on the CBI so
that Caribbean-based companies can have
services and enjoy preferential treatment
into the US. AmCham T&T and AmCham
Jamaica are pushing that.
"If you look at the Caribbean, services
account for a growing and significant portion
of economic output. Even within T&T you
see the service industry."
About Ravi Suryadevara
Ravi Suryadevara is the chief ex-
ecutive and co-owner of Trinidad
Valve and Fitting Company Ltd.
He has more than 15 years experi-
ence in the process instrumenta-
tion, control and automation field.
Educated at St Mary's College in
Port-of-Spain, Suryadevara at-
tained a BSc in nuclear engineer-
ing from Pennsylvania State
University and an MBA in Fi-
nance/Tourism at the Arthur Lok
Jack Graduate School of Business.
He worked on AmCham T&T's
Trade & Investment Conference,
which dealt with issues such as
FTAA and T&T's application
thereof, effects of Globalization
on this twin island state, and of
late till its last iteration in 2012,
Emanating from this endeavor,
the National Youth Productivity
Forum (NYPF) was developed and
is an integral part of the T&I Com-
mittee's work plan annually.
Investment decisions on hold
PHOTO: EDISON BOODOOSINGH
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