After experiencing a very challenging 2010, the T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce says crime and the payout to Clico policyholders are the major issues it would like the Government to address urgently in the new year. Through an online interview last week, the chamber said that crime remains the number one concern for business. "We hope that the new Minister of National Security, the new Minister of Justice and the new Police Commissioner will bring the best minds together to devise a clear and credible plan to attack crime in the country and restore law and order to the nation in the shortest possible time."
Secondly, it stated that the chamber was looking forward to early implementation of the Government's Public Sector Investment Programme and other infrastructure spending, so that money will start to trickle down to consumers and hopefully rekindle demand and economic activity. It added that this would include the implementation of some of the measures announced in the 2010/11 budget, for example, the CL Financial issue. "This would help to restore consumer confidence and encourage private sector investment in response to the direction shown by Government," the chamber said. The chamber also expressed great concern about T&T's declining status in the Ease of Doing Business and the Global Competitiveness indices.
It said that this issue must be addressed as foreign direct investment has always been important to a small economy such as T&T. It noted that Trade and Industry Minister Stephen Cadiz had stated in a meeting with chamber members last year that the removal of bureaucracy was one of his top priorities and they looked forward to working with the minister and all related bodies to address that issue. Flooding and traffic woes, which heavily impact on productivity, must be tackled speedily. Another area it felt must be addressed is the early settlement of union negotiations, so that public offices can return to full operations quickly. "We hope that there will be reasonableness and sound judgment in the negotiations, and that the state of the treasury, as well as the need for greater productivity, will be taken into account, together with the need to increase workers' pay to cope with the cost of living."
Food production, diversification of the economy, with a focus on agriculture, efficient management of state resources, improved public health services and appointments of the remaining State boards, in order for good governance to prevail, were some of the other concerns on the chamber's 2011 wish list.
Meanwhile, it stated that it managed to have some achievements in 2010, despite businesses feeling the impact of the global economic. This included the launch of the T&T Debates Commission, which organised the country's first independent local government election debate last July.
It also said it hosted the "Connecting the Caribbean and Central America: Exploring and Seizing New Opportunities" conference, which brought together leading entrepreneurs from Central America, with their T&T counterparts to discuss the prospects for greater collaboration in business between the regions. The chamber said one outcome of the conference will be the visit of a trade mission to Central America in 2011.
Other 2010 achievements:
1. Its International Trade Negotiations Unit (ITNU) continued to participate in meetings on trade negotiations between Caricom and Canada.
2. The ITNU represented the chamber members at the Council for Trade and Economic Development (Coted) meetings in Guyana.
3. In December 2010, the chamber hosted a workshop on the opportunities for the private sector available under the Cariforum-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
4. The chamber continued to roll out the ASYCUDA World Training Programme and hosted industrial relations seminars on legislative matters, such as Equal Opportunity and National Insurance.
5. It hosted the i-Govtt inaugural session, which is responsible for sourcing the information and communication technology services and hardware to fulfil Government's demand and supply.
6. Under the chamber's Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Committee, it focused on governance and hosted two interactive sessions with live case studies on practical CSR.
7. With a focus on micro, small and medium enterprises, it hosted seminars on "How to Attract Funding and Building a Better Business" and "Developing and Improving Your Products."
8. The chamber also hosted the second "Annual Caribbean Facilities Management and Maintenance Conference" and the second "Excellence in Printing Showcase 2010."