Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 2nd 2013 Contents MAY 2013 • WEEK ONE www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
COMMENTARY | BG21
The cumulative success of chamber members
has a great impact on T&T s economic growth.
In the face of an economy that has experienced
no growth over the past four years, it is clear
the chamber must be the bridge that connects
the many stakeholders among the public sector,
civil society and private sector, with the view to moving our
nation tangibly forward to economic growth and develop-
How, then, can the chamber look to accomplish this task?
John Pierpont Morgan---otherwise known as JP Morgan---
American financier and banker, once said: "The wise man
bridges the gap by laying out the path by means of which he
can get from where he is to where he wants to go."
So the question now is: where do we want to go and what
path are we laying out for ourselves?
Continuing the implementation of our Strategic Plan 2011-
2014, under my stewardship, the board will be guided with
the specific goal of building bridges for the common good of
businesses and, by extension, the national community of T&T.
We will either reinforce or create multiple bridges that will
enhance our linkages with government, state agencies, academia
and other business associations.
As we create these multiple bridges, they must be able to
withstand the test of time founded on transparency, good gov-
ernance, and accountability.
Confidence in our own ability to compete on the world
stage is a prerequisite to building confidence in others and,
in that respect, the chamber has a major role to play.
Already, there are local companies which have broken into
worldwide markets, so we know we have the ability to compete.
How, then, do we leverage on those successes to create more?
The key is through partnership and bridge-building. If we say
that our small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are the future
of business in T&T, as they are in most countries, how can
we overlook the importance of their development?
In this regard, the chamber has been working with our
SMEs to link them with the larger companies who have seen
success and provide avenues for networking, professional
development and mentorship opportunities. I would like to
see the chamber be at the forefront of developing more of
these opportunities for our SMEs to help grow them and
expand their markets.
Through our recently-established Doing Business with the
Public Sector series, we have been providing links with state
agencies to better understand their procurement practices and
the many, many opportunities that exist.
Our economy has remained stagnant for far too long. If we
are to start on a recovery economic journey, we need to accept
that we cannot continue to increase public expenditure without
simultaneously increasing productivity and revenues.
Yes, the Government needs to invest in the necessary infra-
structure to create an enabling business environment and
increase competitiveness , but we also need to find more cost-
effective ways of doing so. Therefore, the much-talked about
public/private partnerships must be the model that we should
seek to follow in order to revitalise our economy, and the
chamber will continue its work to reach out to all parties---
government, business, and labour---as we do our part in revi-
talising the economy.
Crime at all levels impacts society. Whether white- or blue-
collar, crime is a main deterrent to economic development
and investment, not only investment through foreign direct
investment, but also investment by our local entrepreneurs.
The cost of crime to businesses continues to grow and, in
some cases, productivity may decline for those businesses
that are located in high-risk areas
The chamber believes the war on crime must be fought on
ALL fronts, utilising legislation, enforcement, the prompt
administration of justice, good example and the social net.
Just as the effects of crime are widespread, so, too, are the
causes, which range from problems within the family to the
increased use of drugs, to the rise of gangs and gang warfare
and to the loss of shareholders depositors and investors
value. Therefore, the only way to effectively battle serious
crime is to tackle it at all levels and from all fronts.
The chamber will continue to work with various stakeholders
to ensure that the fight against this scourge remains number
one on the agenda for our national, as well as our business
Diversification of the economy is also a priority for the
chamber. It is instrumental in growing our economy and pro-
viding for sustainable development while generating real wealth
amongst our citizens. T&T must seize the opportunity to
leverage the wealth created by our energy resources to diversify
our economy, and the chamber will continue to lobby and
work with the Government for incentives and legislative reforms
which would help stimulate the growth of the economy into
the various sectors identified.
We do not believe the Government should attempt to tackle
the task of developing and growing every sector identified at
the same time. However, together with the private sector, a
few should be identified as the focus of our efforts for devel-
opment and growth.
Tourism, one of the sectors earmarked for development,
must remain at the top of the list, especially for Tobago. My
colleagues from our Tobago Division can attest to the fact that
the chamber, through that division, has worked tirelessly with
both the Tobago House of Assembly, central government and
other stakeholders to ensure tourism in Tobago does not fall
by the wayside.
Our division has been instrumental in the fostering of the
much-needed Government Loan Guarantee Fund for Tobago
businesses to help rescue Tobago from the dire straits due to
the global economic downturn. Our division in Tobago is con-
stantly looking at ways to build on current relationships to
develop the tourism product of Tobago, and they will continue
to have the full support of our executive team here in Trinidad.
As we speak about diversification, we must also speak about
what is being done via our education system to make it even
possible. How often do we see our universities churning out
young people who either face unemployment or underem-
ployment as there are no jobs in their chosen fields waiting
If we say we want to diversify our economy to focus on
food sustainability, maritime industries or financial services,
what are we doing to build a cadre of professionals who will
fill the labour void in these areas? Again, the chamber must
seek to be one of the links to proactively build the relationship
between business and academia in this regard.
In order to ensure that we engage in meaningful action, we
must not bite off more than we can chew. Our focus, therefore,
will be on those core areas which we feel the chamber can
have the most impact.
The challenge for the chamber, then, is to continue to build
our bridges to take us to where we want to go, based on imag-
ination, openness and courage:
• Imagination is the raw energy for discovery and innova-
• Openness enables the distinctive strengths of individuals
to synergise and multiply;
• Courage helps us question conventional wisdom and take
risks to make a difference.
I want to urge each one of our members to continue the
journey with us, with imagination, openness and courage. I
thank you in advance for the support I know you will extend
during my term as president, and I humbly look forward to
T&T Chamber of
Industry and Commerce
Today, the T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce is pleased to reproduce
an edited version of the inaugural address of chamber president,
Moonilal Lalchan, delivered on April 24 at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad hotel.
Guests for Sunday's episode of
Business Line on CNC 3 at 8:30pm:
• President of e-TecK Kelvin Mahabir
• Managing director of Bourse
Securities Subhas Ramkhelawan
• Chairman of TIC Anthony Aboud
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