Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 17th 2014 Contents BG4 NEWS
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt JULY 2014 • WEEK THREE
Businesspeople not being
able to renew their pass-
ports impacts negatively on
business in the country, said
Suzetta Ali, chairman of the
"It will severely impact the business com-
munity if it continues. There are many multi-
nationals in this country. In the absence of
having your passport renewed and also those
who have business in the regions, it severely
impacts on them as well. People cannot con-
duct business in a time like this. People have
planned their business travel and vacation and
it impacts on people who have business trips.
When people put off trips, it means a delay
in business," she told the Guardian on Mon-
Ali was speaking about the repercussions
of the industrial relations dispute between the
Government and the Public Services Associ-
ation (PSA) that has resulted in workers at the
Immigration Division working reduced hours
over claims of health and safety issues at their
workplace on Frederick Street, Port-of-Spain.
Ali said it is not only the business commu-
nity that is impacted, but the entire country.
"You have students who are going abroad
for studies. There are also some countries you
cannot enter if your passport is not valid for
six months. Those businesspeople who have
their passports in there and cannot get it will
be affected," she said.
Ali said this could affect companies in search
of new markets regionally and the region is
already going through tough times.
"If you have new business and you are look-
ing to access across the Caribbean, it could
be affected. It is quite slow in the region. There
is no secret Barbados is suffering drastically.
If T&T companies are suppliers to the region
and need to travel to secure business, you can-
not do that if you do not have a passport."
Stephen King, business development man-
ager of Xanos, an information, communications
and technology company, told the Business
Guardian last Friday he believes not many
business travellers would be affected by the
problems at the Immigration Division.
King was at the Trade and Investment Con-
vention (TIC) two weeks ago at a Cuban Busi-
ness Forum looking for business opportunities
"This is the summer time, I do not think
it would affect business travel too much. A
passport is valid for ten years, so it will affect
businesspeople in a small manner. It is only
those who need to try to renew now and that
is a small fraction. My passport does not expire
for another eight years," he said.
He said public sector workers and the trade
unions are holding the Government to ransom
over the Immigration Division issue and this
is not good for the business environment.
"I think the bigger picture is the Government
of T&T has been held to ransom by some of
the public sector trade unions. If you look at
what happened to National Insurance Board
(NIB) and VAT Office, they used methods like
saying the air condition was not working and
they closed it down. They used longer-term
measures like health and safety within the
building and that they needed to refurbish
and change and build new exits and other
things," he said.
King said the Government has to "stand
up" to trade unions affecting the stability and
business environment of the country.
"The Government has to stand up and they
cannot keep lying down and seceding to that
manipulation. If this prolongs, it would def-
initely affect businesses as whole as it means
the Government is not in control and there
is a stability issue. If the Government does
not take control, be it through the court or
the core elements responsible for this, then it
means the Government is unstable," King said.
He said this situation looks bad for potential
investors looking on.
"The effect for onlookers in T&T and
investors abroad is going to be negative. With
regard to the situation at the VAT office and
their action, we had to send people down to
the San Fernando office to pay it. Of course,
if we did not pay it, then there are penalties.
ECA on immigration woes:
Non-renewal of passports
could affect investments
Continued on Page 5
PHOTOS: ABRAHAM DIAZ
AND MICHEAL BRUCE
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