Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 31st 2017 Contents AUGUST 31 • 2017 guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
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A look back but
Few days on the nation's
calendar have the ability
to invoke a sense of re-
flection and introspec-
tion among citizens like
Today, we dedicate much of our publication to reflect on
the journey of T&T through the lens of business over the past
Through stories published in the Guardian newspaper over
the last five decades (the T&T Guardian turns 100 on Satur-
day), we hope that our readers get a sense of the evolution of
the economic and entrepreneurial landscape that has shaped
In some sense, there has been great progress while, on the
other hand, much of what was reported 55 years ago is equally
as relevant today.
As a nation, we are at a critical point along our develop-
mental path. Sadly, as history reflects, we've been here before
and appear to have failed to learn the lessons from the first
Many seem to think that the best years of our sovereignty
are behind us. In fact, there's a cross-section of society who
believe that T&T might have been better off had it remained
a colony of the British Crown.
The reality is, however, for the most part, T&T has been
good for business over the past 55 years.
Favorable taxation policies, a ready pool of labour through
reasonable investments in education, political stability, robust
capital markets and a generally friendly trade environment
have allowed many businesses to develop and flourish over
the past five and a half decades.
Any businessman with the right amount of
drive and ambition could have succeeded in
a newly-independent T&T, and many have
done quite well for themselves.
Were there periods of difficulty? Certainly. A number of
once great businesses (example Woolworth and Kirpalani's)
have failed along the way while others petered on the edge of
collapse. The birth and growth of a nation was sure to come
with both labour and growing pains. It's within the natural
vicissitudes of economies, especially commodity-based ones
such as ours, to go through periods of boom and bust.
Taken from a bird's eye view, however---and up until re-
cently---the trajectory for most businesses has generally been
upwards. That said, today's business climate pales in com-
parison to what obtained when this country first set out on
its independence journey.
The game has changed and, in a real sense, the local landscape
has as well. Any one starting their business journey now will
find T&T an increasingly difficult place to get things done.
The cost of doing business in our twin-island republic has
escalated on all fronts. The problems are familiar and have
been discussed at length. Add to this the effects of globalisa-
tion and one realises that the Darwinian notion of "survival
of the fittest" is as applicable to the business world as it is to
the animal kingdom---perhaps now more than ever.
Having placed our domestic realities on the table, the ques-
tion that ultimately remains is: where do we go from here?
Well, for one thing, the economic slump
that the country is currently facing
and, as bad as it appears, brings with
it the seeds of opportunity to reshape
and rebalance. As the saying goes, a
crisis is a terrible thing to waste. We
are, once again, confronted with the challenge of putting our
economic and social affairs in order and this time, with way
less room for error than before.
A smaller government, a genuine focus on economic di-
versification, increased worker productivity and a vibrant
and innovative private sector must move from being catchy
buzzwords to actionable, results-driven activities.
The responsibility to ensure that the next 55 years of inde-
pendent rule, quality of life and business will be better than
the last resides with every employee, business owner, entre-
preneur, minister and corporate and state enterprise executive.
Where we are today is a reflection of who we are and the
decisions we've made collectively as a society. The time to
do things differently is now.
The responsibility to ensure that the
next 55 years of independent rule,
quality of life and business will be
better than the last resides with every
employee, business owner, entrepreneur,
minister and corporate and state
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