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Chamber boss: Crime a problem but Investors will keep coming
Even though T&T continues to be plagued by a burgeoning crime problem, Energy Chamber president Roger Packer says it will not deter foreign investments in the energy sector. Packer made the statement yesterday while speaking with reporters after the orientation ceremony for the first 100 students in the National Energy Skills Centre’s $18.8 million Drilling Academy at Ste Madeleine. Within the past few weeks T&T has been hit by a number of violent crimes, one of which was the assassination of Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal on May 4. Seetahal, 59, was assassinated while driving her Volkswagen Touareg SUV near the Woodbrook Youth Centre, Woodbrook.
She was on her way home when she was blocked by unknown gunmen who shot her five times. Packer yesterday admitted T&T has a crime problem, but said he does not believe it will have a negative impact because of the positive aspects of this country, such as a stable economy, stable governments and the continuation of contracts. “Trinidad is well respected as a safe place to invest and that has been for the past 30 or 40 years, so I don’t think that the crime will have that major effect on all the foreign investment and local investment that is taking place,” Packer said. He said he believes schools like the Drilling Academy can help to reduce the problem.“We need to get the young people out of secondary schools and into practical skills and drilling skills. First of all we need to go to root cause. I think things like this, where we could get the young people straight out of school and get them involved (will help)” he said. Crime, he said, is obviously a concern. But he pointed out that when one looks at places like Colombia, which has one of the highest levels of crime in the past decade, there is a very active energy sector there.
Packer said in the energy sector, crime “is a bit of a deterrent, but it is relatively small.”
Tertiary Education and Skills Training Minister Fazal Karim, also speaking after the ceremony, said significant money had been invested in he academy by the NESC and already it was making money from the academy. “We ran a programme for an energy sector company here (at the academy) which is to bring people from abroad, so even though we are now formally launching (today) it is money generation, revenue generation. I can predict that this school will be a profit earner,” he said. Karim said with the level of investment and production sharing contracts in the energy sector “this is the appropriate time for us to skill the population and the workforce.”