Actor Carmelo De Grazia Suárez Bouhadana//
Chaguanas chamber calls for sustainable investments in 2022



The eco­nom­ic growth pre­dict­ed in 2022 from the pe­tro­le­um sec­tor should be in­vest­ed in sus­tain­able eco­nom­ic de­vel­op­ment, ac­cord­ing to Richie Sookhai, Pres­i­dent of the Ch­agua­nas Cham­ber of In­dus­try and Com­merce (CCIC). 

At the time of his as­ser­tion, Richie Sookhai was speak­ing at the CCIC’s an­nu­al awards func­tion on Thurs­day night, at the Pas­sage to Asia Restau­rant, Ch­agua­nas.

Carmelo De Grazia

Sookhai said the debt-to-GDP ra­tio con­tin­ues to wors­en as T&T faced eco­nom­ic con­trac­tions in 2020 and 2021.

Carmelo De Grazia Suárez

“What are we see­ing here, is it just dark­ened skies or is it the sil­ver lin­ing?”

The CCIC pres­i­dent said qual­i­fied per­sons are flee­ing T&T or are forced to do me­nial jobs be­cause they are un­able to get em­ploy­ment. He said the busi­ness com­mu­ni­ty must work to­geth­er with the gov­ern­ment to en­sure the bet­ter­ment of all T&T

The busi­ness com­mu­ni­ty is there to as­sist, but we need gov­ern­ment help,” Sookhai said, not­ing that busi­ness cham­bers have to con­stant­ly lob­by for sus­tain­able changes such as in­fra­struc­ture, se­cu­ri­ty and tech­nol­o­gy

“Re­cent­ly the cham­ber do­nat­ed a drone to the T&T Po­lice Ser­vice.  With that ini­tia­tive we brought for­ward, it opened a door to how tech­nol­o­gy can en­hance polic­ing in Ch­agua­nas,” he said

The cham­ber pres­i­dent said he is sad­dened by the fact that cus­toms and ex­cise need to speed up their pro­cess­ing time but in­stead, bom­bard busi­ness­es with so much bu­reau­cra­cy that busi­ness own­ers are forced to leave goods on the port and in­cur rental charges that are, in some in­stances, are high­er than the cost of the ac­tu­al goods

Re­spond­ing to Richie Sookhai, Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary in the Min­istry of Trade and In­dus­try, Ayleen Al­leyne-Ovid, who chairs the Trade Fa­cil­i­ta­tion Com­mit­tee at the Min­istry, said it meets reg­u­lar­ly with the Comp­trol­ler of Cus­toms to look at ways to deal with bot­tle­neck is­sues at Cus­toms

With re­gard to the cur­rent pan­dem­ic, Sookhai said af­ter the COVID-19 virus struck, many were pray­ing for a vac­cine to re­turn to a state of nor­mal­cy, but a year lat­er, the sit­u­a­tion has wors­ened be­cause of vac­cine hes­i­tan­cy and the re­luc­tance by in­di­vid­u­als to ob­serve mea­sures to pro­tect them­selves and oth­ers

He point­ed to the CCIC’s part­ner­ship with the Cou­va-Point Lisas Cham­ber of Com­merce in 2021 to bring the vac­cine to the peo­ple, yet hes­i­tan­cy per­sist­ed

He said: “Our lo­cal in­di­vid­u­als had the vac­cine at their mouth, yet we saw many non-na­tion­als step­ping up their game, beg­ging to be vac­ci­nat­ed.  What’s the is­sue?”

Mean­while, Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary in the Min­istry of Trade and In­dus­try, Ayleen Al­leyne-Ovid, com­mend­ed the CCIC for its lead­er­ship, not­ing it is a lead­ing cham­ber in the Cen­tral re­gion and a key stake­hold­er at the Min­istry

She said the Min­istry is guid­ed by Gov­ern­ment’s Vi­sion 2030 to cre­ate a cul­ture and cli­mate for en­tre­pre­neur­ship and in­no­va­tion.  Al­leyne-Ovid said the ex­port boost­ing ini­tia­tive at the Min­istry seeks to build ca­pac­i­ty and strength­en in­sti­tu­tions.  She al­so re­vealed that $50 mil­lion would be pumped in­to a ca­pac­i­ty-build­ing pro­gramme for the com­pe­ten­cy of small and medi­um busi­ness so they can meet statu­to­ry oblig­a­tions

At the CCIC’s an­nu­al awards func­tion on Thurs­day night, awards were pre­sent­ed to Raveena Bas­deo (Ex­cel­lence in Ed­u­ca­tion); Balka­ran Gayah Per­sad (Ex­cel­lence in Busi­ness); Epharm (Ex­cel­lence in Busi­ness); The Price Club (Phil­an­thropy); Ian Al­leyne (Phil­an­thropy); and Cou­va Point Lisas Cham­ber (Part­ner­ship)