The American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad & Tobago (AMCHAM T&T) in collaboration with the U.S. Embassy in Trinidad & Tobago, hosted its first Member Business Engagement Seminar on Thursday 1st February 2018 at the Hilton Trinidad & Conference Centre.
The forum is part of AMCHAM T&T’s and the US Embassy’s effort to create an avenue to address any questions or concerns businesses may have concerning trade and business relations with the United States. Representatives from the embassy were: Kyle Fonay, Embassy Political & Economic Officer; Kevin Ogley, Deputy Consular Officer; and A.J. Jagelski, Embassy Public Affairs Officer.
High on the agenda was the issue of business travel facilitation. Embassy officials stated that the U.S. was very open to and interested in travel and investment between the two countries. They indicated that on average four out of five persons applying for visas are successful with their application.
Another topic discussed was pre-clearance, an issue AMCHAM T&T has advocated for with the current Government and its predecessor. AMCHAM T&T believes offering pre-clearance into the U.S. at Piarco International Airport would offer clear advantages in terms of fostering a better relationship with the United States, as well as positioning Trinidad and Tobago as a portal for increased business travel throughout the Western Hemisphere.
Embassy officials emphasised the importance of the U.S.’s relationship with Trinidad & Tobago, and spoke to the implementation of the U.S.-Caribbean Strategic Engagement Act of 2016, which is seen as a means of expanding U.S. engagement and its strengthening relationship within the Caribbean. They continue to invest in the TT community through work with organisations in the areas of at-risk youth, community safety, security, disability rights, and entrepreneurship. The panel also addressed concerns relating to taxation, terrorism and anti- money laundering legislation.
A very pleasant good morning to you all…
It gives me great pleasure to address you today on this eight iteration of the AMCHAM T&T National Youth Productivity Forum, affectionately known as NYPF.
AMCHAM T&T is deeply committed to assisting in shaping a better Trinidad and Tobago- a Trinidad and Tobago with a productive work force, positive economic and social indicators and most importantly a T&T in which all citizens, especially our young people, realize that meaningful dialogue and inclusion are the only means that we will we make good choices. The adage that you are tomorrow leaders, ring hollow if you are not equipped to contribute to your schools, communities, and country. You need to understand the shifting world that you are about to inherit. You are not only the future of society, but you are, very much a big part of our PRESENT. And we try through the NYPF to prepare you for that role.
The NYPF engages our young people in the comprehension, articulation and discussion of national and global issues, as well as being part of the solutions by employing the tools of critical thinking, presentation skills (oral and written), innovation, research and entrepreneurship. Students are sensitized to the interconnectivity among the major stakeholders in society – business, labour, government and civil society- and the need for collective responsibility and collaborative solutions and implementation thereof- what we strive for in the ‘real world.’ These ladies and gentlemen are the elements of real education and as Nelson Mandela said "education is the most powerful weapon which you
can use to change the world.”
We are encouraged by the fact that the Ministry of Education, the Tobago House of Assembly, UTT, Office of the President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Equal Opportunities Commission, First Citizens Bank, Massy Technologies, parents, teachers and corporate sponsors are giving tangible support to this project. Needless to say, we have always been impressed and inspired by the keenness and commitment with which you have aligned yourselves to the initiative. This year we had an overwhelming number of schools register- this is the largest number of schools to register for the Fourm to date, and whilst we are excited to extend the Forum to accommodate you all, I caution you to understand the role and commitment that you have made. As our future leaders, we will hold you accountable to meet that deadlines of this initiative that you have committed. We also expect that you would contact us, in any urgent circumstances. Your participation not only affects your school, but also the other schools in the Rounds, and whist we have had that problem in the past, I am sure we would not have that problem with this group of students!
This Forum has been supported by the Honourable President Carmona, who has been the patron of the Forum for the last four years, and prior to President Carmona the patron of the initiative was the former U.S. Ambassador to T&T Mrs. Beatrice Welters. We hope that the incoming President, the first female President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago would be in a position to also support this initiative. It is important for us to pause here and acknowledge the impact of this country having its first female President -this would definitely assist in making gender equality in leadership normal. AMCHAM T&T strongly supports the nomination, as we believe it would open the eyes of our young people to the fact that leaders come from all backgrounds, colour, races and definitely gender.
The topic of the NYPF this year is “Health..your Wealth… Towards a more Productive Trinidad and Tobago”. According to a recently published Non Communicable Disease Report by the Ministry of Health, Trinidad and Tobago, research has shown that a quarter (25%) of school-aged children (5 – 18years) is overweight or obese. Childhood obesity remains a major concern due to its impact on the development of risk factors leading to chronic non-communicable diseases (CNCDs) such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and strokes later on in life. There has already been the emergence of CNCDs like diabetes in our children and youth populations. Trinidad and Tobago, at 60%, has the highest overall percentage of deaths due to CNCDs within the Caribbean region, heart disease is the Number 1 cause of death in Trinidad and Tobago accounting for 25% of all deaths, the diabetes prevalence rate among adults is approximately 12% - 13% and 50% of persons, 24 – 64 years, already has 3 or more risk factors for CNCDs. This high prevalence of CNCDs in our adult and children populations is related to unhealthy diets (high fat, salt & sugar), insufficient physical activity and low consumption of fruits and vegetables (less than 3 servings per day).
I am looking forward to hearing students passionately impress peers to the wisdom of limiting consumption of unhealthy fast foods and to embrace local nutritional foods and engaging in exercise. We are looking forward to innovative solutions to deal with the Health scourge we are facing.
We have incentivized the Forum, with some of the prizes (cash grants) being awarded to the teachers, who we know go beyond the call of duty to ensure that their students participate and get the additional assistance they need. And yes, we would also give our students some cash grants, and for the project component, the winning school will receive $TTD12,000 (in addition to the teacher’s grant) to successfully implement the project. You would get the details later today, but let me just say that we are using this Forum as a catalyst for creating critical thinkers and an improved learning experience.
We hope that the lessons you learn through this exercise will impact your families, schools, communities and country.
Thank you for your kind attention.
Event: AMCHAM T&T’s Economic Outlook 2018
Venue: Hyatt Regency, Trinidad
Remarks by Mitchell De Silva, President AMCHAM T&T
All protocols observed, Good Morning.
It is both a pleasure and a privilege to be here this morning to address you; a pleasure because every opportunity to engage with the membership and wider Trinidad and Tobago is always welcomed and a privilege as today we bring to you some of our country’s most prominent thought leaders, whose views I am sure you are anxious to hear. That said, please permit me the indulgence of your time, as I attempt to put into context why we are here and our desired outcomes.
Put simply, this event aligns with our emphasis on more meaningful engagement, AMCHAM T&T firmly believes that it is only by encouraging dialogue and creating appropriate forums for views to be articulated, shared and challenged that we will realize many of the objectives that we set ourselves as a country. That said, the burning question is what are those objectives or more importantly what should those objectives be and why? I dare say that many of us in this room may not be entirely clear on the current policy agenda and if and how that agenda will lead to:
1. Improved fiscal discipline and accountability
2. Economic growth and diversification of our revenue base
3. A curtailment of crime and criminality in all forms
That list can go on, but I believe those three areas, broadly speaking, are representative of some of our most pressing concerns, which hitherto have not been addressed either as frontally as we would like, or perhaps in a manner which does not align with our expectations.
On the issue of improved fiscal discipline, in his latest address to the Nation the Prime Minister rightfully highlighted the tremendous strides that his administration has made in reducing expenditure from approximately $60Bln to approximately $50Bln, a significant achievement to say the least.
What we have not heard in the debate thus far and pardon me if I have missed it, are details on measures we are putting in place to prevent a reoccurrence of what I would like to term exuberance in planned expenditure. As our recently appointed Director, Bruce Mc Kenzie highlighted in our post budget event, we have tendency to significantly increase planned expenditure as planned revenue increases. Emphasis on the word planned, especially in relation to revenue. A pattern which AMCHAM T&T firmly believes cannot continue. What we need are fiscal rules, which will impose a discipline on us that has been prescribed by the IMF for Jamaica and Grenada and possibly others, but which at this juncture may be appropriately designed by us to meet our unique circumstances. Let’s not await the prescription but take decisive steps now. This is an area that my former colleague and one of today’s panelists Marla has been long advocating for and I am certain she will have a thing or two to say on this topic.
I am sure all panelists will have views on diversification and each may have a unique and insightful perspective, one possibly more than the others.
Clearly, the need to diversify is self-evident and the questions into what, the scale of those initiatives and whether or not they can augment and or overtake our current main contributor to the national purse are complex and require careful consideration and deliberate measureable actions. It is certainly not my expectation that our economy will be meaningfully diversified in the short to medium term, but it is not unreasonable to advocate that steps be taken today towards that outcome. This is where we, the private sector, need to be decisive and lead the State into the areas that we view as having the potential to shift our revenue base. The recent announcement of a Prime Ministerial appointed committee to act as an interface between the Government and Private sector to presumably achieve that outcome is interesting. Not wanting to be provocative or skeptical, but somehow that initiative feels and sounds as though there is some overlap between it and another that was constituted at the start of this Administration’s term. Let me be clear, AMCHAM T&T supports all meaningful initiatives that are designed to spur and encourage actions that will improve our current situation and outlook, but we are somewhat guarded when announcements are made with limited details provided.
While Ravi will speak more about this in his presentation, I feel compelled to make the point that anti-business language from policy makers, an unpredictable legislative and tax environment and unnecessary bureaucracy all make it more unlikely that capital will deployed in T&T in the midst of a recession. Our hope is that in 2018, the economy further stabalizes, that there is more co-operation between Government and Opposition and that there is more meaningful engagement among Civil Society, Government, Labour and Business on key national issues.
Immediately action is needed to pass anti-gang legislation, cyber crime legislation, legislation to bring us in compliance with our AML /CTF obligations and e-payment legislation, to highlight but a few. There is likely consensus that far too many of our laws are outdated. We need a modern legislative framework – laws that are relevant in the 21st Century – to enable a competitive economy. Our Parliament must do more. For that to happen, we need to see more bi-partisanship. Our country is at a crucial juncture. Our leaders must rise to the challenge.
Turning to my third highlighted issue; much has been said about crime and criminality with a decided focus on prosecutions, arrests and detention. As we all know, these deal and treat with the symptoms of crime but fail to address the root cause. Faster detection, swifter prosecution, greater visibility of law enforcement and regulators alike are essential yes, but a thorough analysis of what gives rise to these issues is what is needed and again the recognition that the benefits of the actions we take today will not be immediate, rather gradual at first and increasingly impactful with the passage of time.
Allow me to emphasize the point on regulatory visibility and enforcement, I think we would all agree that there is a correlation between white collar and violent crime, yet on a relative basis our detection and prosecution of the former appears to significantly lag the latter. All too often the Private Sector’s commentary on criminality is perceived to be skewed towards violent crime, while that may not necessarily be the case it is a perception that for some is a reality. We must change that perception and be equally vociferous about all forms of illegal activity and in so doing share our burden of the blame and shoulder the responsibility for developing solutions by giving generously of our time and talent, something that far too few of us have done. The Private Sector’s efforts in getting procurement legislation passed and a board and regulator appointed are apt examples of what we can achieve if our efforts are focused. We must be willing to give the same level of sustained commitment and sacrifice in matters such as the Revenue Authority and other critical areas that will ultimately allow for the creation of a more just, equitable and safe society.
In conclusion, my hope for today’s event is twofold. Firstly, we leave you with a more informed perspective of our economic reality and secondly, we all recognize that it is only through meaningful engagement and commitment that we will return our country to prosperity.
Thank you ladies and gentlemen
AMCHAM T&T: MORE ENGAGEMENT NEEDED
The American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad & Tobago (AMCHAM T&T), welcomes the Hon. Prime Minister’s Address To The Nation as part of the Government’s effort to keep the population informed about the current state of the nation’s economy.
We acknowledge that the Hon. Prime Minster outlined several critical issues in his address and intentionally dealt with the macro-issues. Moving ahead, we look forward to more specific information on many of the initiatives proposed by the Government, including those that will deal with the on-going crime scourge. The timely delivery of clear, accurate and detailed information is critical for investor confidence, and is characteristic of a Government that is committed to transparency, accountability and good governance in all its affairs.
AMCHAM T&T recognises that the Government has reduced Government expenditure since coming into office. We encourage them to now enact fiscal rules (detailed in our budget submission) for Government spending to ensure discipline, rigour and accountability.
We understand that managing an economy in the current economic climate is challenging, and acknowledge that hard decisions must be made as we restructure our economy to be competitive in today’s world. We also appreciate the Hon. Prime Minister’s call for all sectors of the society to work together to overcome the country’s challenges. In this vein, more meaningful engagement is required to arrive at the best solutions in the shortest possible time.
AMCHAM T&T would also like to see more bi-partisan co-operation in the Parliament, as this will be a critical component of ensuring that our legislative framework is suitable for the changing global economy.
In this regard, AMCHAM T&T remains ready to engage with and assist the Government in any way needed as we all work towards economic stability, leading to socially inclusive growth and prosperity.
AMCHAM T&T CALLS FOR THE PROTECTION OF ALL WORKERS AGAINST HARASSMENT & VICTIMIZATION
The American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad & Tobago (AMCHAM T&T) renews its call for the protection of all workers against gender-based violence, sexual harassment and victimization in any form.
We continue to be unapologetic in our stance for the creation of a society where everyone, irrespective of their gender can be safe: safe to work, safe to play, and safe to speak up.
As issues of Sexual Harassment and Employee Victimization continue to take center stage in the media internationally, we believe that this can create a tipping point for us locally. AMCHAM T&T believes that all leaders in the public and private sector have a part to play to ensure that workplace polices are unambiguous, definitive, clearly communicated and strictly observed. We must make certain that anyone who steps forward to report sexual harassment is protected against victimization. There should always be an open and safe place for women and men to come forward with their allegations. In the same vein, we also believe that all parties (the accused and the accuser) must have a right to a fair, unbiased and thorough investigation.
Activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, once stated that “There are times when silence becomes an accomplice to injustice.” As such, AMCHAM T&T remains committed to raising our voice to highlight this issue. In 2015, we partnered with the United Nations Population Fund in Trinidad & Tobago to help bring greater awareness to the business community on the topic of Sexual Harassment as well as other gender-based issues. Since then, we have continued to highlight our concerns in various fora, including our annual Women’s Leadership Conference, and through partnership with various agencies such as Men Against Domestic Violence and One Caribbean Media in the “Leave She Alone” campaign.
AMCHAM T&T would also like to commend every individual who has had the courage to step forward and speak of their experiences, as well as those who provide a sensitive and supportive environment to encourage same.
21st ANNUAL HEALTH, SAFETY, SECURITY, AND ENVIRONMENT CONFERENCE AND EXHIBITION
TUESDAY 14TH NOVEMBER 2017
HYATT REGENCY TRINIDAD
It is indeed my honour to address you this morning at our 21st Annual Health, Safety, Security and Environment Conference and Exhibition. During my time here at AMCHAM, both as a member of Trade and Investment Committee and as a member of the Board, I have had the pleasure of seeing this event grow both in depth and scope. I can proudly state that it is now our flagship event, and it is the largest gathering of HSE professionals in the region. We have created a forum where the brightest minds in their respective fields come together to share information, encourage best practices, and elevate H.S.S.E awareness and standards.
As the Pathway to the Americas, AMCHAM T&T continues to stress the importance of looking outwards to the Americas. If we are to be successful in this endeavour we must ensure that businesses hold themselves to the highest standard possible. This will give us a greater advantage as we attempt to compete in the global market. As we remain committed in our thrust to make an indelible impact on free and fair trade, and to positively influence the economics of our nation, we will continue to educate and advocate for HSE excellence in organisations. Good HSE policies make good business sense.
This year the theme of the conference is People, Systems and Sustainability. Given the current business climate this theme is very timely, as all three components are necessary for businesses to succeed and thrive.
If we take a closer look at each element, you will see that we have purposely placed People first. People are the most important asset in any organisation. Every person, no matter their position within the organisation, is important. Leaders must nurture and create an environment which encourages and enables growth, safety and security. This is why we found it important to expand our focus on health and wellness to include mental health.
And to the people, the employees, I would like to make this appeal to you. Know your worth in your organisation and the worth of the organisation. Use your greatest asset, which is your voice. Use it to speak up and to speak out. Use it to build bridges. Use it to ask the hard questions and to find the right solutions.
The other two elements: systems and sustainability, go hand in hand. Businesses can no longer focus only on having the right systems, but they must also ensure that these systems are secure and sustainable. There must be the right combination of safety standards, corporate social responsibility, and environmental protection if a business is to be successful.
As we begin our conference I must implore each and every one of you to be unwavering in your attempts to protect the values of excellence in health, safety, and environmental protection in your businesses. Take the information that you learn here and implement them in your organisations.
Finally, I would like to extend a thank you to the HSE Committee and its chair, Curt Cadet. I must also thank our sponsors. We know that this has been a challenging year for most if not all of our organisations and your sponsorship shows not only the trust you place in AMCHAM T&T, but your commitment to this cause.
AMCHAM T&T's Annual H.S.S.E Conference 2017
Remarks by Nigel Darlow, CEO Atlantic for Opening Ceremony
November 10, 2017
Ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning to all and a particular good morning and welcome to the Honourable Minister, Paula Gopee Scoon. Paula of course knows Atlantic very well especially with her connections to our home base in Point Fortin. We thank her for her collaboration and support to Atlantic over the years and are delighted she could join us here this morning.
Atlantic is pleased once again to be the title sponsor for the 25th anniversary edition of the AMCHAM HSSE Conference.
Atlantic congratulates the Chamber on this significant milestone and we take this opportunity to applaud its many achievements stretching over a quarter of a century.
This event is very much established as the leading HSSE Conference in the Trinidad & Tobago calendar. It plays a very important role in promoting and reinforcing best practices in health, safety, security and the environment not only locally but also across the Caribbean Region.
Recognition of the caliber and importance of this conference is clearly evidenced by the many sponsors and attendees here today. So on behalf of the other sponsors of this event, we wish AMCHAM continued success in the future.
The theme for this year’s Conference is “People, Systems, Sustainability”. This very much resonates with Atlantic’s Core Values – what we call our SPiRIT values – of Safety, Performance, Integrity, Respect and Teamwork – and with People being the centre of everything that we do.
I am certain that 2017 has presented challenges to many businesses and Atlantic is no exception. This has been a year which has again seen very significant gas supply shortages to our plant – with rates down at around 70% utilization.
This has had a significant impact on the business – not only the considerable lost revenue opportunity, but the operational challenges of having to continually adjust to gas supply fluctuations. The plant is not on steady operation, making things more complicated and putting additional strain on the plant & equipment and the people operating and maintaining it. Consequently, this has had an adverse impact on our plant reliability, which is lower than normal.
This year Atlantic has also seen a drop in our safety performance. Atlantic has delivered very strong safety performance sustained over many years. Up until August this year we achieved over 37 million man hours – stretching back almost 10 years – without a Lost Time Injury. This achievement has been due to our determination to build and embed a strong Safety Culture, and implement best practices in Safety.
One of the biggest contributors to our safety performance is our commitment to Safety Leadership at all levels in the organisation. There is high visibility of the company’s leadership and management in Safety Walkdowns, Safety Audits and regular Safety forums. Atlantic continues to perform very well in HSSE during our major shutdowns where we have implemented many best practice initiatives such as our Safety Village with Contractors; our Management Safety Walk-downs every 12 hours; our Fatigue Risk Management Policy, and also our practice of regular Safety Stand-Downs. This all helps to ensure Safety is our number one priority.
On the process safety side Atlantic had not experienced a “greater consequence” process safety event for a long time. In addition Atlantic was ranked the leading company in Trinidad and Tobago for Process Safety & Asset Integrity Management in last year’s National Audit conducted by globally renowned experts DNV on behalf of the Government. In fact, DNV commented that Atlantic’s Process Safety Management was amongst the best they had seen globally. This together with our annual Process Safety Week (which promotes awareness of process safety risks) and our strong leading and lagging safety indicators suggested that Atlantic was in a good place with Safety.
However, in the last few months Atlantic has had two process safety events. Back in August we had a gas release on Train 3 due to a failure of a control valve. Fortunately, nobody was hurt in the incident – but things could have turned out very differently. The train was shutdown for 11 days whilst repairs were undertaken and safety checks carried out. Then a month afterwards Atlantic had a fire on one of our nine power generation units. Again, nobody was injured but it did cause damage to the unit.
These two incidents were quite difficult for us to come to terms with. Atlantic had a strong track record and all safety indicators appeared very positive. Yet two incidents happened in quick succession. We have spent a lot of time investigating them and putting in place corrective actions to ensure there can be no repeat. Beyond the immediate investigation we have been standing back and asking ourselves some more fundamental questions about how we operate and maintain the plant – and are there changes we need to make?
So we are having a re-look at things including an external review with our Shareholders – to determine what changes are required. We need to ensure we reinforce and sustain all the good safety processes and systems that exist at Atlantic but also that we identify and correct weaknesses in those processes and systems. So the lesson is to always be wary – and have that “chronic unease” that something could go wrong at any time. Never get complacent.
As I said, 2017 has proven to be a challenging year – but it is also one where Atlantic has delivered some significant value to our stakeholders, and we have moved forward our HSSE agenda.
For instance, Atlantic delivered the Trinidad Region Onshore Compression Project, called TROC, which involved installing large new inlet compression facilities at Atlantic. The TROC project was executed on behalf of one of our shareholders, BP. Its delivery was exemplary – on schedule, below budget, but most importantly of all, with an outstanding safety performance. TROC became operational in April this year and provides an important source of increased gas supply.
Another of our initiatives in 2017 involved Atlantic partnering with a local asphalt production company, to recycle the molecular sieve used in our liquefaction process. The asphalt company thermally oxidizes the molsieves at high temperatures then uses it as a feeder for road paving. This is a significant environmental benefit, as it reduces the need for sand from local quarries. This ground-breaking initiative continues to provide cost savings to Atlantic, but more importantly helps to reduce the risk in handling, transporting and storing used molecular sieves. This project was the overall champion in our annual Atlantic CEO Awards.
I mentioned earlier the significant gas supply shortages impacting the country and in particular Atlantic. We expect the situation to become much improved in the short to medium term, when supply from Juniper increases its flows into the system and other sources come online.
Atlantic’s four train facility remains globally competitive. As I have often stressed, our trains were built at a fraction of the cost of new LNG facilities coming on stream – including those in the US and Australia. This gives Trinidad & Tobago a strong competitive advantage against many LNG sources and helps Atlantic to maintain its status as one of the lowest cost producers of LNG globally.
Additionally, Atlantic’s LNG volumes are sold under long-term contracts with significant destination flexibility. This allows Atlantic’s LNG volumes to continue to compete favourably in global markets against other LNG supply sources, even in the current global over - supply of LNG.
So, given the improving gas supply outlook and Atlantic’s sustained competitive position, the future for Atlantic is a very positive one. But it is extremely important that we continue to deliver a safe and a reliable operation.
This being an HSSE Conference, I want to take a moment to pay tribute to someone who had contributed significantly to the field of HSSE, by both his passion and expertise, and that is Atlantic’s late Vice President of HSSE, Henley Harewood, who sadly passed away suddenly in April this year. Many of you here today will have known Henley – larger than life and very passionate about what really mattered to him: making sure that we all return home safe to our families at the end of each day.
Henley took safety to a different level – he set the bar at new heights. He helped change the safety culture and leadership not just in Atlantic, but amongst our Service Providers and across Trinidad. What Henley delivered did not just make Atlantic a safer working environment but Trinidad and Tobago a safer working environment. Henley should be remembered as one of the great safety leaders. He was very good at what he did, and we all owe him much thanks.
In honour of this great man’s achievements, Atlantic in partnership with the University of the West Indies has established the annual Henley Harewood scholarship in Occupational and Environmental Health and Safety. The first recipient was recently announced, and we look forward to more scholars engaging with this very important area of research.
Some of the challenges that we face in Trinidad and Tobago in the area of occupational and environmental health and safety will require innovative, cost-effective solutions. Whether it is the issue of aging infrastructure and its impact on asset integrity, or enhancing HSSE competence among the workforce, fresh perspectives are needed, as well as practicable, robust solutions that are sustainable in the global marketplace.
We look forward to robust discussion over these two days and to the sharing of best practices. We encourage everyone to continue to work together to make our companies and our country safer. The theme of this year’s Conference highlights how important it is for us to keep our focus on people. This focus should drive everything that we do. When we keep people and their communities safe, helping to meet their needs in ways that are mutually beneficial and also sustainable, then everybody benefits.
So again, on behalf of the sponsors, I thank AMCHAM for arranging this fantastic opportunity, and I know we will all benefit from the exchange of ideas and the strengthening of partnerships. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you.
MORE FEMALE MENTORSHIP NEEDED
“Based on feedback from our annual Women’s Leadership Conference, we realized that more support for women was needed in terms of mentorship. AMCHAM T&T decided that instead of complaining about the problem, we would be part of the solution.” These were the words expressed by AMCHAM T&T’s CEO Nirad Tewarie as he addressed the successful mentees chosen for the Women’s Leadership Mentorship program.
Done in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), this pilot project, will enable AMCHAM T&T to make a greater impact on the local business environment.
“Studies have shown that having more women in the boardroom, and at senior executive positions within a company is good for business. This is a philosophy that AMCHAM T&T fully supports,” Mr. Tewarie added.
The mentees were paired with both female and male mentors from the IDB’s network of professionals in areas of Science and Technology, Information Technology and Economics. Mentee, Thrizyl Nandoo, Account Manager at TSTT raved with excitement at being chosen for the program. “I think this is an amazing opportunity for me to grow and develop in my field” she said. “I have no problem with being paired with a female or male mentor, in fact, I believe that it is necessary to engage men in the process as men make up most of the leadership positions, so we must enlist their help if we are to create any kind of meaningful change” she added.
The mentorship program will span four to six months, depending on the individual needs of each mentee. Carina Cockburn, Principal Operations Specialist IDB, emphasized that: "The IDB is 100% committed to gender equality and sees this Mentorship Program as a perfect opportunity to further demonstrate this commitment. We strongly believe that women and men are equally capable, and women are fully ready to take on more leadership positions, whether it’s in Government or in the boardroom. By empowering women to share in the responsibility of taking our countries forward, we enable them to be agents of change for the overall betterment of our society."
AMCHAM T&T hopes to expand this program in 2018.
The full list of mentees for the 2017 intake are:
AMCHAM T&T TO HOST NATIONAL EXCELLENCE IN HSE AWARDS
The American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad & Tobago (AMCHAM T&T), is once again ready to host the only award ceremony focused on Occupational Health, Safety and the Environment. The 4th Annual National Excellence in HSE Awards will be held on Tuesday 14th November, 2017 at the Port-of-Spain Ballroom, Hyatt Regency.
The annual award ceremony which celebrates companies that exemplify HSE excellence integrated with business excellence, has become an integral part of AMCHAM T&T’s focus on championing for HSE excellence in the workplace. It is also a major highlight of the Annual HSSE Conference and Exhibition which is now in its 21st year.
The number of entrants competing has grown steadily throughout the years, which is a positive indication that companies are committed to implementing HSE best practices in their organisations. Companies that continue to focus on finding creative solutions to increase productivity, while mitigating risk in a period of economic decline should be applauded. Organizations are competing for awards according to the size of the entity (i.e. Small, Medium and Large) within the following Sectors: Energy; Manufacturing; Services to the Energy Sector and Services to the Non-Energy Sector
The main objective of this Awards Scheme is the promotion of the development and implementation of robust occupational health and safety and environmental management systems by companies, and to recognize related achievements. The Award lends distinction and prestige to its recipients who will be acknowledged not only as business leaders, but as recognizing the value of protecting employees and the environment.
Previous winners include: Halliburton, Stork Technical Services, WITCO, bpTT, Phoenix Park Gas Processors Limited, General Electric, Massy InfoCom and Massy WoodGroup.
For more information on the HSE Awards, please contact Melissa Pierre Senior, Trade and Projects Officer at 622-4466
AMCHAM T&T’S RESPONSE TO THE 2017-2018 NATIONAL BUDGET
AMCHAM T&T listened with interest to the National Budget 2017/2018 presentation by the Honourable Minister of Finance. We expected this presentation to result in some difficult measures being announced. We appreciate therefore that the Government has some hard decisions to make and has limited options. We are concerned that the Minister focused too heavily on revenue increases through greater taxation of those who are already compliant, and filling the revenue gap through the one off sale of CL Financial assets. Overtaxing of the formal economy is going to have a dampening effect on reinvestment.
We feel the presentation fell short on explaining measures to expand tax collection into the informal and underground economies. In spite of a desire to bring the gaming industry into the tax net to a greater extent, simply increasing taxes while admitting that tax collection in the sector is weak, is unlikely to work.
Most worrying is the potential negative impact on investment of the additional taxes on the upstream energy sector, most significant of which will be the proposed Supplemental Petroleum Tax on gas. We hope that this will only be done after consultation with the industry. In addition, the apparent concentration of additional discretionary power in the Cabinet in terms of the small business grants and housing projects should be carefully considered as it is not in keeping with best practice regarding to transparency.
The commitment to transform the public service and take the hard decisions in this regard was welcomed but we have heard such promises in the past. We now await the specifics.
We do support the establishment of the Revenue Authority which would combine both the BIR and the Customs Department. The implementation of this requires deep and meaningful engagement with all stakeholders. We support the establishment of the semi-autonomous Board to oversee the establishment of this Authority and we urge the inclusion of the Customs functions in the TTBiz Link Platform.
We appreciate the re-commitment to the establishment of the Procurement Regulator and encourage the Government to keep to its commitment in this regard, the most important function of which would be to provide the necessary resources and funding.
We are pleased that the Minister made good on his commitment to adjust the margins for fuel peddlers and dealers and encourage regular reviews since this is a fixed price industry. The increased incentives to the Tourism sector can be useful to stimulate activity in this sector and we encourage even greater policy co-ordination and execution to achieve the stated policy results.
Incentives for the tourism sector seemed to be concentrated on room stock and, while important, other key stakeholders need to be considered in any incentive scheme: tour operators, car rental companies, entertainment etc. These actors are a key component of the tourism industry and we should examine how incentives can be provided to these entities as well.
We will expand on this statement at our Post Budget Analysis Event on Wednesday 4th October at the Trinidad Hilton at which Minister Allyson West will deliver the Feature Address and focus on tax-related matters including the establishment of the Revenue Authority.
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