Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 2nd 2014 Contents A29
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Obama got commitments from nearly
300 companies to reach out to the
nearly four million Americans who have
been jobless for half a year or more.
Obama said at a White House event
with chief executives, job training groups
and advocates for the unemployed: "The
longer you're unemployed, the more
unemployable you may seem."
Obama called that "an illusion"
because, he said, such workers are often
better qualified and better educated
than workers who just recently lost their
Obama also signed a presidential
memo directing the federal government
not to discriminate against those long-
term unemployed workers in its own
The event and the memo illustrate the
types of targeted, non-legislative
measures Obama promised to
undertake to expand economic
opportunity during his State of the
Union address last week. Obama has
declared 2014 a year of action for his
administration, but his chances of
winning legislative victories are slim in
an election year and with a divided
Obama asks execs for help hiring long-term jobless
The last time Carnival was can-
celled for security reasons was dur-
ing World War 11.
Taking the same action now, even
with a high murder toll and increas-
ing concerns about safety, could cost
the country millions of dollars, econ-
omist Indera Sagewan-Alli warned.
"The losses would run into the
hundreds of millions, if not billions.
Remember Carnival in Trinidad is a
fixed event in the country s calendar
of events, preparation and so expen-
diture for Carnival of the next year
starts immediately upon the com-
pletion of this year s event.
"There are some stakeholders, for
example mas bands, whose total
annual revenue is generated at this
time. Can they withstand such a
loss and have the capacity to prepare
adequately for another year?" she
Sagewan-Alli said Carnival season
in T&T was like Christmas for the
retail sector in other countries.
"There will be the lost to the for-
eign participants who have already
made travel arrangements, loss to
the airline industry, the loss of ticket
sales and the additional resources
they must have already expended to
ensure that there are sufficient seats
to meet this peak demand. Loss of
revenue to taxi drivers, vendors,
hotels, guest houses, fete promoters.
The resources already expended by
mass bands in preparation, the
National Carnival Commission
(NCC)," she said.
She added that cancelling Carnival
would be sending a bad signal to the
international community about the
state of crime in T&T.
"Firstly, to do so would be admit-
ting that crime has in fact gone rogue
and that the state and the security
forces are unable to manage and
control it. This can in fact worsen
the situation. This message sent to
the rest of the world would have
negative implications for the regular
tourism inflow and for investments."
Calling off Carnival is not an
option, the economist said. Instead,
Government needs to rein in crime
to ensure that economic activity is
"Government needs instead to
ensure that this scourge of crime is
brought under control so that the
normal economic activities of the
country, in this case Carnival, can
be hosted uninterrupted," Sagewan-
Digicel concerned about crime
Penny Gomez, communications
manager at Digicel, said it would be
unfortunate if Carnival could not
take place because of high crime.
"A ban on Carnival would be an
unfortunate, especially for those who
earn their livelihood from Carnival
and the thousands---locals and vis-
itors alike---who eagerly look forward
to the festival each year."
Gomez said Digicel has invested
deeply in culture since it entered
the T&T market seven years ago.
"The cultural significance of Car-
nival has been one of the main fac-
tors for our support of the festival,
support which is aligned to every
aspect of Carnival---the music, the
parties and the mas," she said, even
as she expressed concern about the
negative effect of crime on society.
"Like everyone else, we at Digicel
are very concerned about the hike
in crime and the damaging ripple
effect it has on our society. Digicel,
as a law-abiding citizen, will adhere
to any changes in procedures as
passed by Government in this
regard," Gomez said.
Louanna Chai-Alves, executive
director of the Trinidad Hotel,
Restaurant and Tourism Association,
said T&T needs to better manage
its image and promote "brand T&T"
in a more professional way.
"Crime has the potential to be a
threat to buyers of our product. It
is important that we go out there
and say that T&T is a safe destina-
tion so that people will not only be
hearing negative thing," she said.
Bhai-Alves said T&T needs to
market itself because few people
know about the country as much as
they know about Barbados or
"We have an incredible product
but we need better product devel-
opment. Throughout the Caribbean
arrivals are increasing and so are the
revenue generated from it. However,
T&T s rates are less that the rest of
the region. It is unfortunate that out
political directorate cannot see that.
30,000 people in T&T are employed
by this sector and they need to see
that," she said.
She said the hotel occupancy rates,
based on recent statistics, are high
but people are staying for shorter
periods than in past years.
"In past years the occupancy start-
ed peaking from the Wednesday
before Carnival but this year it is from
Carnival Friday. Our data is showing
it is a shorter stay and this impacts
on revenues," Chai-Alves said.
There are a number of reasons for
this, but the main one may be eco-
nomic. It is likely that because of
the international economy and
changing world that people are not
travelling as much as they used to,"
she said. Carol Birchwood-James,
vice president, Tobago Hotel and
Tourism Association said calling off
T&T s Carnival would be the death
of the local tourism industry.
"There are many challenges we
face but they are not insurmountable.
We cannot do that. We have no other
choice but to bring the rate of crime
down, not only for the tourists, but
for locals as well," she said.
The high cost of calling off Carnival
the streets of
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