Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 10th 2014 Contents A11
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Catherine Kumar, CEO of the T&T
Chamber of Commerce, says the high
murder rate is of great concern to the
She made the comment after
Wednesday s Social Dialogue Task Force
meeting at the Hyatt Regency, Port-
Leaders from the trade union move-
ment, Government, business commu-
nity and even the Tobago House of
Assembly have formed themselves into
a Social Dialogue Task Force and came
together Wednesday for their first round
T&T ranked among the highest in
the Latin America region in economic
freedom, but if the crime rate is not
reduced it could turn off foreign invest-
ment, she warned.
"If the social infrastructure is not in
place and people can t earn a living,
this is of great concern for business."
Asked if she felt another state of
emergency was necessary, she replied,
As for Prime Minister Kamla Per-
sad-Bissessar s threat to hold every
national security agency head account-
able, Kumar responded with a series
"Accountable for what? Getting
crime down? But how?"
T&T Chamber CEO expresses concern:
She said solving crime was not
just about national security forces,
it needed wider collective effort.
"Our concern is seeing how they
can do this," she added.
Responding to National Security
Minister Gary Griffith s comment
that criminals were killing crim-
inals, she said, "We still need to
be alarmed, no matter who is
killing who. In any case, criminals
should not be outside."
Referring to the killing of a
Cedros couple, Krishna and Radha
Ramdeen, Kumar said, "Murder
has spread into many other areas,
it s not just the hot spots."
Finance Minister Larry Howai,
also part of the Social Dialogue
Task Force, said he is yet to read
a recent story in the Financial
Times which said T&T s gas riches
gave the country no escape from
crime and violence. The Guardian
spoke to Howai about the story,
but he said he only knew about
an article on the Caribbean.
The January 6 Financial Times
story by Robin Wigglesworth cov-
ered Port-of-Spain up to the time
when 13 murders were committed
for the new year. Wigglesworth
described T&T as a "wealthy island
federation in the Caribbean" and
"one of the richer parts of the
western hemisphere, with a per
capita gross domestic product of
about $18,000, second only to the
"The UN s Human Development
Index classifies T&T as a highly
developed country, government
debts are among the lowest in the
western hemisphere, and energy
exports, predominantly natural gas,
nets the state roughly $4.5 billion
But Wigglesworth also wrote
that T&T s crime rate is one of the
worst in the world and the coun-
try s homicide rate exceeded that
of Mexico for more than a decade.
He spoke to Kirk Waithe of Fixin
T&T, who said governance failure
was to blame, and did a lengthy
interview with a weeping Helen
Squires of Beetham Gardens,
Squires told the Financial Times,
"I sometimes wake up and just
cry my eyes out. Things could be
so much better for our country."
Wigglesworth linked crime in
the Beetham and the country in
general with its proximity to South
America and its drug cartels, which
form links with local gangs and
use Trinidad as a transshipment
point for smuggling cocaine to
Europe and the US.
But he also quoted criminologist
Renee Cummings, who said T&T
was really "a society that is suf-
fused by violence."
No request for money
Fielding questions from the
media on crime Wednesday, Howai
said he has not been approached
by Minister of National Security
Gary Griffith for more money to
fight crime. He said the Govern-
ment had made a very large allo-
cation to national security in this
year s budget and all the money
has not been spent yet. He said it
was a 12-month budget and only
about 25 per cent was spent.
Howai said unless there were
new crime-fighting initiatives
which required additional funding,
he did not see any immediate need
to allocate more money to national
security. He said if the minister
and the National Security Council
come up with new initiatives and
there was a need for extra funding,
the Finance Ministry would cer-
tainly put the resources in, since
crime was a high priority.
"But at this stage, there is no
High crime rate can
spook foreign investors
National Security Minister Gary
Kirk Waithe of Fixin' T&T.
Finance Minister Larry Howai.
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