Government ministries must become more efficient in order to make doing business in T&T easier, president of the Chaguanas Chamber of Industry and Commerce (CCIC) Richie Sookhai says.
He made the comment during the Chamber's annual end of year and awards function at Signature Hall, Longdenville, Chaguanas, on Saturday night. He said there must be an enhanced level of inter-connectivity among ministries in order to boost productivity.
Looking at the past year, Sookhai said T&T experienced "economic rough seas" in 2016 that led to a loss of revenue and thousands of jobs.
He said the decline in the global economy had also impacted the region, leading to a steady influx of immigrants into T&T.
Sookhai said T&T could no longer be dependent on oil and gas and had to diversify into new and broad areas.
"There is a school of thought that says that the manufacturing sector is the driving force to bring us out of this, but I believe that we have the option to look into different sectors. We could start looking at renewable energy, renewable energy sources," Sookhai said.
He said Government must change its five-year mentality towards projects and instead look at long term plans and the following through on plans left behind by previous administrations.
Also speaking at the event, bptt regional president Norman Christie said in less than a decade the entire oil and gas industry had been turned upside down because of factors that included shale oil and gas and global warming.
He said: "How do we continue to maximise returns from gas in T&T when the country which was our largest importer of gas less than a decade ago, the United States, is now a major exporter of gas? How do we navigate the monetisation of cross border and across border gas when our neighbour, Venezuela, has serious political and economic challenges.
"How do we continue to attract investment when there is a short to medium term global oversupply of the product we are trying to sell?
"The increased complexity in just this one area is enough to put your head in a spin and of course there are many more areas of complexity–globalisation versus protectionism, the re-emergence of the cold war, the ageing population in many developed nations are just a few of the complexities."
Christie said confronting social and economic complexities for leaders would require courage.
He added that no one was immune from the rising crime levels.
"What is frightening is the increased callousness of humanity, it is no wonder that more and more people just want to retreat. Unfortunately, most remain vulnerable and we all soon learn that the walls we build to retreat behind, they are never high enough.
"Crime needs to be confronted and make no mistake, confronting crime requires courage."
Christie said the secret weapon needed to bring about courage is love.
"Some of the weapons associated with courage are power, divisiveness and slander, but love is seldom present. This is why T&T stopped in awe of a young girl who decided to show love to a person in a grocery store by feeding him."
Christie also urged national community to get all the necessary facts before making judgments or adopting a viewpoint based on one source or individual.
He said it is easy to get caught in an echo chamber that supports a biased view while never getting close to the truth.
During her address, Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon said 2016 had been challenging, but noted Government has been working tirelessly to create solutions in the short, medium and long term.
She urged the business sector to keep looking at Cuba as a possible market for local goods.
Recent trade missions to Cuba and parts of Europe, she added, proved to be successful.
She said Government had secured a US$25 million loan from the Inter American Development Bank (IADB) to expand the Single Electronic Window for Trade managed by her administration that has around 7000 users monthly.
The chamber also honoured business tycoon Dr Anthony Sabga.
Sookhai recalled that Sabga was blanked twice when he had applied for membership to the T&T Chamber. Sookhai said this was one of the many stories of Sabga that should inspire nationals not to give up on their road to success.