Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 26th 2013 Contents Big projects mean big money; most times
it's millions of dollars poured into commu-
nities by corporate T&T for their corporate
social responsibility (CSR) projects.
Exactly what is the extent of those projects?
Do they benefit the communities in which
the money is spent?
Nigel Darlow, chief executive officer of liq-
uefied natural gas producer Atlantic, said the
company has a responsibility to the Point
Fortin community and therefore has CSR
projects there and in other parts of T&T.
"We focus on three areas: education, sport
and the environment," Darlow said.
He said Atlantic spends millions on CSR.
Its projects include support for the National
Primary Schools Cricket League.
Griselle Smith, coordinating human
resource specialist at IBM World Trade Cor-
poration, said the company matches what
employees contribute. In other words, it's a
"one to one match."
Smith said CSR is about giving back to the
community for the betterment of T&T.
"It is matched by personal donations from
employees. A lot of the time we go out (to
do projects) and you have employees who
ask: what do you need? They dip into their
pockets and give."
Describing one of its projects, Smith said
IBM T&T partnered with its North American
counterpart and designed an educational pro-
gramme for children, looked for non-govern-
mental organisations doing work with children
and in those homes how many children were
there between the ages three and seven.
"We have partnered with some NGOs and
even installed the machines in homes. We
now have children between the ages of three
to seven who are now aware of how to be
computer literate. That's what we have accom-
plished in terms of bridging the digital divide."
Graeme Suite, TSTT media relations and
corporate communications manager, said the
company was doing its part to bridge the
digital divide through its CSR work.
"Only the past year, the company has been
using its equipment that it was about to be
retired. Information technology staff volun-
teered to refurbish it. Every year we make a
donation of between 75 and 80 machines to
different NGOs at homes where children do
not have the opportunity to benefit from
Alec Purcell, human resource representative
from PCS Nitrogen, said the company set up
the PCS small group farm in 2011 because it
"wanted to encourage farmers to come to the
farm to learn about new systems in terms of
planting and different levels of farm tech-
nologies from different parts of the world.
"In our effort to help the community and
wider T&T feed themselves, some of the pro-
duce we harvest on the PCS model farm, we
donate to the charities within the Couva
community and the rest of produce we give
at a subsidised price to local resellers. The
goal of the farm is to enhance the skills of
the local farmers."
Phoenix Park Gas Processors
At Phoenix Park Gas Processors Ltd
(PPGPL), the belief is that the company is a
member of the energy sector and the
resources belong to the people. This means
resources are returned to the citizens through
"And the size of budget allocated depends
on the project.
BG6 | NEWS
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt SEPTEMBER 2013 • WEEK FOUR
The economy has experienced four consecutive
quarters of economic growth, and while some
industries and companies have seen the trick-
le down effect, others have not. Finance Min-
ister Larry Howai made reference to the per-
formance of the non-energy sector in his
budget presentation and said on a year-on-year basis, the
economy has recorded positive economic growth in the last
four consecutive quarters driven, in the main, by the non-
Dr Ronald Ramkissoon, senior economist, Republic Bank,
said growth in the banking sector has been "minimal."
"There has been some minimal growth over the last year
or so in credit, especially in mortgage loans, and in our view,
in real gross domestic product (GDP), more so in the non-
energy sector. This growth has been uneven, however, with
some sectors doing a bit better than others. This is evidenced
by some construction activity," he said.
He said both the Government and private sector must
contribute to stronger growth.
"The available data must be carefully interpreted and a
distinction must be made between quarter to quarter and
year on year. In any case, the focus must be on much faster
growth through stronger investment by Government and
the private sector," Ramkissoon said.
Dane Darbasie, managing director of Desk Restaurants
Ltd which manages the Wendy's fast food brand, told the
Business Guardian the business climate of the quick service
restaurant industry has remained consistent over the last
two years despite the prevailing macroeconomic environ-
"Entertainment in T&T is limited, so food and drink is
how people entertain themselves, and we have continued
to see disposable income in those areas. To relate it to eco-
nomic growth is very difficult to my business and the indus-
try," he said.
Darbasie said his business is doing well, but this predates
the economic recovery.
"The growth we are seeing in the industry, and specifically
in my business, we have been seeing it even before the four
economic quarters of growth the Finance Minister is referring
to. However, I would not doubt that growth has had some
impact, though. The disposable income spent in my sector
has been pretty consistent over the last 24 years," he said.
Darbasie said his business would be affected if the economy
was in a slump.
"I would not say if we were in a deep slump, we would
still be doing very good. What I would say despite the slow-
down in the economy that we would have experienced two
years ago, our industry was not in a slump like the rest of
Without giving data, Darbasie said 2013 has been good
"Specifically for my business in 2013, I have continued
to grow, consistent with growth we have had in the prior
Security industry boom
Despite the boom and bust cycles the economy goes through,
it seems the security industry has been doing well, said Dwight
Williams, chief executive officer of Heller Security Services.
Speaking at a San Juan Business Association post-budget
forum at Maritime Plaza, Barataria, two weeks ago, Williams
told the Finance Minister why crime in T&T is so high.
On Monday, the Jamaica-born Williams said there is a
"boom" in the security industry, which is unfortunately due
to the runaway crime rate.
Even before the economy started to recover the security
companies were doing well.
"As security companies, we have no complaints as while
there is crime, our services are needed. Economically, we are
doing well. Every week or every other week, there is a new
security company in the country and it shows how crime is
creating a boom for security companies," Williams said.
He said security companies are offering officers, bodyguards
and surveillance services.
"The need for security services in the country has been
growing at a rapid rate since 2008. No one has put a handle
on crime and services to counter it is in demand."
Williams said more security companies mean the industry
"We have more and more businesses, like supermarkets
and every other type of business, coming to us for armed
guards because of the hikes in robberies. We cannot raise the
price of our services because of the demand and supply
dynamics. It is a competitive market."
Stephen King, business development manager, Ixanos, a
company that develops software and engineering solutions,
told the Business Guardian on Monday the ICT sector is no
better off, despite four quarters of economic growth.
"We need to be careful with the figures. I work with num-
bers and statistics and numbers can be tweaked and it is
how you aggregate them. The companies on the ground cer-
tainly not have benefited from any increased economic growth.
Possibly, the Government's spend on ICT has increased, but
I do not think it has trickled down and local companies have
He said a major problem the local ICT sector has expe-
rienced is contracts going to foreign firms which have the
money to develop software and ICT solutions.
"Most products, services and platforms are brought from
outside of T&T. It is a struggle for local companies to get
opportunities unless you are IBM, Microsoft or the bigger
brand names. From what we are realising, the tendering
process is not open. The opportunities for local ICT firms
are still small and I am not sure the Government has the
opportunity to open up the tendering process," he said.
He said local companies are no more than "tools" in the
"Our local companies are tools for foreign companies,"
King said. "They are not developing anything like new software
or intellectual property. They are just an extension of the
King also said the ICT sector is "craving for opportunities.
Every company is selling someone else's products. There are
probably ten of them in T&T and all of them are selling other
foreign companies' software and products. In T&T we are
very stifled and we are looking for opportunities in Caricom.
We do have advantages the other Caricom territories do not
have, like cheaper utilities."
He said the PP Government has signed an agreement with
Microsoft for the public sector which squeezes out local
talent and opportunities for local companies.
"The public sector now uses Microsoft as the standard and
this agreement was costly. This goes against what the rest of
the world is doing. Other companies are now going the route
of open software and developing their own systems without
international brands. This, of course, is much cheaper. Jamaica
and Cuba have gone this way and have migrated to open soft-
ware. I do not understand why T&T cannot do the same."
King said despite talk about economic growth, the Gov-
ernment needs to pay attention to developing the local ICT
sector. "The Government has not understood ICT, and an
ICT sector that does not develop its own intellectual property
is simply a marketing machine for others," he said
As Finance Minister speaks of four straight quarters of growth...
Fast-food outlets, security firms benefit
Top tier companies spend $m on CSR projects
As security companies,
we have no complaints
as while there is crime,
our services are needed.
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