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Chamber president: Illegal businesses in Chaguanas

Monday, April 14, 2014
Chaguanas Chamber President Ritchie Sookhai, left, at the head table with National Security Minister Gary Griffith and Chaguanas Mayor Gopaul Boodhan for the breakfast meeting. Photo: Vindra Gopaul-boodan

President of the Chaguanas Chamber of Commerce Ritchie Sookhai, says the central Trinidad borough is suffering from “a plague of illegal immigrants.” Sookhai, who addressed a breakfast meeting hosted by Chaguanas Mayor Gopaul Boodhan and National Security Minister Gary Griffith, complained that legitimate businessmen are being squeezed out by illegal aliens. 



“Chaguanas has what is almost an epidemic of illegal immigrants who are flooding our streets. These immigrants have opened up non taxpaying businesses which cut into the business activities of legitimate Chaguanas businessmen,” he said. The Chamber president said illegal vending is another issue plaguing the borough. 



He said: “These are the people who affect the pristine image of Chaguanas as a place to do business and that affect the sense of security that burgesses feel when conducting their daily affairs. In the same vein, the emergence of a number of brothels across the borough is a cause for concern and if we are to imagine the borough as a place where you can raise your families this certainly needs to be curbed.


“We also have the problem of inconveniently placed bars with haphazard operating hours coupled with loud music and dodgy crowds that have caused much distress and discomfort to law abiding citizens.” Sookhai said burgesses are also affected by the haphazard way in which PH drivers operate.


“The reputation of legitimate drivers is being marred by outsiders who come disguised under plying their trade and are the perpetrators of crimes done by supposed PH drivers,” he said. “Formalising the system of PH drivers will bring a greater sense of accountability and ensure that random elements will not infiltrate the system.” Sookhai said the traffic problems in Chaguanas are “a symptom of a much deeper cause” and is made worse by indiscriminate parking and street vending.


He said the chamber welcomes the work of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) which is examining the source of funds for transactions in an effort to prevent money laundering.“Many times we are offered sums of monies in different ways for concluding transactions which may make us uncomfortable, especially transactions which may involve land or settlement of legal claims. The FIU creates a way to express this discomfort and to properly deal with transactions which may not be quite legitimate. 


“Currently, the reporting obligations are imposed on a certain set of persons. In the future, it would be welcomed to see such obligations expanded to other business types, even if not as stringent as the current set,” he said.


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