Trinidad businesses still suffering through state of emergency
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Thursday September 15, 2011 - Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Commerce President Andrew Sabga has come out and chastised the government’s handling of the business community affected by the state of emergency.
Sabga noted that the already existing headaches caused by delayed appointments of State boards and acrimonious negotiations between the government and trade unions had been further compounded by the unexpected state of emergency, which has slowed business productivity in Trinidad and Tobago considerably.
"The State of Emergency has been of high consequence to the business community...thankfully, the curfew hours were reduced to accommodate business. While we understand [the state of emergency] may be necessary, businesses which provide nightlife entertainment continue to suffer," said Sabga as he addressed a pre-Budget panel discussion at the chamber's offices in Westmoorings.
"The chamber believes that we need to start the national conversation on the budget before it is presented. We want to get the business community and indeed, the nation into the practice of being more in tune to and involved in the way we would like the Government to allocate our tax dollars," he said.
Sabga said that many of the goals of last year's budget had not been realised, including a reduction in the fuel subsidy and a new model to manage industrial estates.
"We recognise that the past fiscal year has not been easy sailing, either for Government or for the business community. There have been unexpected turns and challenges on the global landscape while the new government tried to fully settle in and shift into working gear.
"Despite these acknowledged challenges, we hoped in 2011 to see greater strides being made towards the promotion of foreign investment, diversification, and business growth and, of course, crime reduction...Our strength as a nation must prevail through these times and we must have strong government to lead us towards prosperity," Sabga said.
He said the chamber had submitted its proposals to Finance Minister Winston Dookeran to consider when preparing the national budget.
The Chamber's suggestions included that every effort be made to create stronger business ties beyond CARICOM and into Latin America, which will broaden markets for goods and financial services.