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  • 11 Sep 2022 7:55 PM | Kennedy Maraj (Administrator)


    Small Talk Big Links RETURNS!

    In July AMCHAM T&T's Chamber Experience and Imaging (CEI) Committee under the Chairmanship of Mr Vishnu Balroop hosted the first SMALL TALK BIG LINKS (STBL) event for AMCHAM T&T members at Regus Offices at Gulf City Complex, San Fernando.

    STBL is one of AMCHAM T&T's member appreciation events designed to assist up-and-coming leaders to build their networks through vital connections with established business leaders in an intimate setting.

    Aliyah Hamel-Smith, Managing Director at ExeQTrust at AMCHAM T&T's Small Talk Big Links (STBL) event 

    STBL has consistently proven to be both popular and beneficial to the AMCHAM T&T membership with over fifty-five (55) persons from thirty-six (36) member companies attending the first in-person STBL event since the beginning of the pandemic.

    Aliyah Hamel-Smith, Managing Director at ExeQTrust delivered a presentation on the Topic - “Re-Igniting The Future: Planning + Preparing Your Estate & Succession Plan = Your Family’s & Your Company’s Legacy & Destiny”. The presentation provided important information, especially concerning an ‘Estate Planning checklist’ of the things, people, and ages they need to consider in structuring what they own so that they can enjoy it during their lifetime and after they’re gone and also pass it to the most appropriate beneficiaries and at the right ages.

    Small Talk Big Links was sponsored by ExeQtrust, Caribbean Safety Products, EY and Unicomer (Trinidad) Ltd.

    Click the link to view the STBL Gallery.

  • 11 Sep 2022 3:59 PM | Kennedy Maraj (Administrator)




    By Jeanelle Pran 

    Simply put, a special economic zone is an area in a country which is subject to different economic regulations in comparison to other regions within the country. Special economic zones are primarily implemented in order to attract foreign direct investment and in doing so, accelerate economic growth and diversify the economy. This may be done by leveraging tax incentives.

    Recently, the Government of Trinidad & Tobago introduced legislation to allow for special economic zones in our country. The Trinidad & Tobago Special Economic Zones Act 2022 (the ‘Act’) was introduced in the Senate on 16th November 2021 and was assented to on 31st January 2022. However, it is still awaiting proclamation and is therefore not yet in force.

    This article will explore some of the main provisions of the Act and the advantages and disadvantages of special economic zones generally.

    Summary of the Act

    Main Aim of the Act

    The main aim of the Act is to:

    (a) repeal the existing Free Zones Act Chap. 81:07;

    (b) provide for the designation, development, operation, management and regulation of special economic zones within Trinidad & Tobago; and

    (c) provide for the establishment of the Special Economic Zones Authority (the ‘Authority’).

    Functions of the Authority

    The Act sets out the functions of the Authority, which include to:

    (a) review, assess and determine applications for Operator Licences, Special Economic Zone Enterprise Licences and Single Zone Enterprise Licences;

    (b) regulate and supervise zones;

    (c) recommend to the Minister of Trade and Industry (the ‘Minister’) the designation of zones;

    (d) review and assess the performance of all zones and report to the Minister on the performance of all such zones;

    (e) develop modern infrastructure required to attract foreign direct investment and stimulate domestic investment;

    (f) promote economic development in local communities; and

    (g) advance further diversification of the economy.

    The Authority also has responsibility for, among other things;

    (a) finances, real property, and other assets and resources of the Authority;

    (b) securing contracts, the procurement of goods and services and other administrative activities; and

    (c) the strategic plan, business plan and operating plan, budget and annual report of the Authority.

    Power of Authority

    Some of the powers of the Authority pursuant to the Act are to:

    (a) grant and set the terms and conditions of licences;

    (b) amend, vary, suspend or revoke licences;

    (c) inspect licensees and zones in order to monitor and ensure compliance with the Act and terms and conditions of the licences; and

    (d) take enforcement measures in the event of any non-compliance with, or breach of, the Act or the terms and conditions of a licence;

    Notably, the Authority will be managed by a board which has its own responsibilities and powers including to provide general or specific directions to the Chief Executive Officer in relation to the functions of the Authority.

    Designation of a Special Economic Zone

    The Act provides that the Minister may, on the recommendation of the Authority, designate by Order, a geographical area as a special economic zone. The various types of special economic zones and permitted economic activities which may be carried out in each zone are set out in Schedule 3 as follows:

    (a) development zone – activities focused on the development of a specific geographic region with emphasis on factors such as employment, skills training, entrepreneurship and rural development and overall social and economic development of the area;

    (b) free port – a duty free area, located at a port of entry where imported goods may be unloaded for warehousing, repackaging or processing of imported goods for value-adding activities, and logistics services;

    (c) free trade zone – a duty free area that accommodates specific activities targeted for international trade;

    (d) industrial park – a purpose built industrial estate that leverages domestic and foreign fixed direct investment in manufacturing industries and logistics and distribution;

    (e) single zone enterprise – restricted to one business entity engaged in any one of the following business activities — manufacturing; maritime services; aviation services; fishing and fish processing; agriculture and agro processing; information and communications technology; creative industries; financial services; medical tourism services; renewable energy; logistics and distribution; and business process outsourcing; and

    (f) specialised zone – a place designated for specialised activities, including — manufacturing; maritime services; aviation services; fishing and fish processing; agriculture and agro processing; information and communications technology; creative industries; financial services; medical tourism services; renewable energy; logistics and distribution; and business process outsourcing.

    In determining whether to designate a geographical area as a special economic zone, the Act provides that the following factors must be taken into account:

    (a) whether the type of special economic zone and proposed economic activities are permitted under Schedule 3 of the Act;

    (b) the intended size, topography, geographical limits and location of the proposed special economic zone;

    (c) whether the area is one that is identified as having growth potential in the Government’s development plan;

    (d) the existence of required off-site infrastructure, including roads, telecommunication and ports;

    (e) the availability of land and unencumbered land titles;

    (f) the proximity to resources, population centres and infrastructure;

    (g) the infrastructure and other utility requirements, including water, power, sewage, telecommunication, solid waste and waste water management;

    (h) approvals of land uses and zoning requirements to facilitate the special economic zones;

    (i) environmental standards and requirements; and

    (j) such other factors as the Authority considers relevant or as may be prescribed in regulations.

    Types of Licences

    Licences must be obtained in order to manage or carry on any activity as a special economic zone. The Act provides that the Authority may, with the approval of the Minister, issue any of the following licences:

    (a) Operator licence;

    (b) Special Economic Zone Enterprise Licence; and

    (c) Single Zone Enterprise Licence.

    A person cannot carry on the business of managing a special economic zone, unless he is the holder of a valid Operator Licence. Additionally, a person cannot carry on any of the activities set out in Schedule 3 as a special economic zone enterprise or single zone enterprise, unless he is the holder of a valid Special Economic Zone Enterprise Licence or a Single Zone Enterprise respectively.

    A person who contravenes any of the above requirements commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $250,000.00 and imprisonment for two (2) years.

    The Act goes into additional details on the eligibility for these licences, the application process, the terms and conditions, duration, and considerations to be taken into account by the Authority before granting same and more.

    Repeal of Free Zones Act

    Save for certain transitional periods and savings provisions, the Act repeals the Free Zones Act.

    Advantages and Disadvantages of Special Economic Zones

    In theory, special economic zones have the ability to:

    (a) Increase foreign investment in Trinidad & Tobago which in turn can create employment opportunities and a higher standard of living for locals.

    (b) Build on the capabilities of the local workforce as outside investors can share expertise and know-how.

    (c) Enhance the international appeal to Trinidad & Tobago by creating a relaxed regulatory environment which creates the overall ease of doing business.

    (d) Increase trade activity, manufacturing, exports and technological advancements in Trinidad & Tobago.

    On the flip side, special economic zones can bring with it certain disadvantages, especially if not implemented and managed properly. Some of these disadvantages are set out below:

    (a) Special economic zones could be used to retain protectionist barriers in the form of taxes and fees. What this means is that it could result in a restriction of international trade for the benefit of the domestic economy (for instance by implementing tariffs, import quotas, product standards and subsidies for domestic companies).

    (b) They may also create a high level of autocracy due to the increased level of regulatory requirements (including the application process to obtain licences to operate in special economic zones).

    (c) The relaxation of certain regulations has the potential to create an environment that may be attractive to nefarious actors including those who engage in illegal activities such as counterfeiting, money laundering, and general smuggling. Additionally, zones could be used by such nefarious actors to import counterfeit goods if not managed properly. Notably, the Act provides that the Customs Act Chap. 78:01 and the Excise (General Provisions) Act Chap. 78:50 shall apply in a zone to the extent required for the Comptroller of Customs and Excise to carry out his obligations. However, it does not give express powers to Customs and Excise to detain counterfeit goods on a reasonable suspicion (in comparison to, for instance, the Trade Marks Act No. 8 of 2015, which expressly sets out this right).

    (d) If a zone gains a reputation for opaqueness and criminal activity, it will become less attractive to investors who are seeking legitimate investment opportunities to grow their business, especially large multinational corporations.


    It remains to be seen how beneficial the Act will be and in particular, what impact it will have on trade and economic activity in Trinidad & Tobago. As evident above, if not managed in the proper way, special economic zones can be used for illicit activities and deter foreign investors. However, if implemented and managed appropriately, it can positively impact manufacturing, technology, foreign exchange, employment and business opportunities in Trinidad & Tobago.

    The information provided in this article does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. All information is provided for general information purposes only. Specific advice should be sought from your Attorney-at-Law on any issues raised herein, if thought necessary.


    Jeanelle Pran is an Associate Attorney-at-Law at M. Hamel-Smith & Co.

  • 11 Sep 2022 3:27 PM | Kennedy Maraj (Administrator)



    We are thrilled to introduce our new members to the AMCHAM T&T family.

    Supply Solutions Limited, standing strongly at the Corner of Demerara Road and Churchill Roosevelt Highway Arima, is a model to deliver solutions for Engineering, Procurement and Construction. Supply Solutions limited was established on the principles of Steadily and Safely Supplying Satisfying Solutions to all our clients.

    Our mission is to create an environment in which employees can grow, while ensuring our clients have the most hassle free experience.

    Since 2015, Supply Solutions Limited has lived up to furnishing solutions on turnkey projects with high level engineering, premium Welding and Fabrication, Industrial Material Supply and Installation, Facility Maintenance, labour supply, Waste management and many other diverse services. Our unique approach to project management, not as a task, but rather as an opportunity to create solutions, has given us an unsurpassed edge for client satisfaction. So, let us safely supply the solutions you need today!

    Address - Corner of Demerara Road and Churchill Roosevelt Highway, Arima

    Contact Info - 868-265-2400 or 868-682-2400

    Sagicor Life Inc is one of the leading financial services entities in Trinidad and Tobago, with a strong legacy dating back to 1858. Part of a regional conglomerate, it offers a wide range of financial and insurance-based products and solutions, including:

    • Life
    • Health
    • Pensions
    • Annuities
    • Mortgages

    Today, with a prime location around the Queen’s Park Savannah in Port of Spain and three sub-branches, Sagicor continues to be committed to its vision of improving the lives of the people in the communities in which it operates.

    Sagicor Life Inc currently holds an A- (Excellent) rating from AM Best, which reflects confidence in Sagicor’s diversification strategy and capitalisation across its lines of business.

    Contact - 800-SAGE (7243)

    Ferreira Optical Limited (FOL) started out on September 1st, 1973 on Oxford Street in Port of Spain, with a small optical dispensary and laboratory, and four employees. From early on Ferreira Optical established a reputation for quality products, workmanship and a high level of customer service.

    After 49 years of maintaining the market leadership position, Ferreira Optical continues to innovate and grow. The company’s ability to leverage its years of experience and value system to constantly evolve is key to its continued success. With customer focus always at the forefront of its initiatives, Ferreira Optical designed and developed its own lines of eyewear, including the Brian Lara Vision Collection and Emmanuel Nissi. As a modern eye health provider, the business now consists of a telehealth service delivering eyecare support online, an online store, nine retail locations throughout Trinidad and Tobago with full optometric and dispensing facilities, an optical laboratory, and a head office with a total of approximately 120 employees.

    Address - 59 Golden Grove Road (BWIA Boulevard), Arouca Trinidad and Tobago

    Telephone - (868) 225-1146

    Email -

    Website -

  • 10 Sep 2022 9:43 PM | Kennedy Maraj (Administrator)



    by Toni Sirju-Ramnarine

    Four years ago, AMCHAM T&T hosted the first edition of the Tech Hub Islands Summit (THIS). The goal was to amplify the importance of digital transformation to our economy and to start laying the foundation for the development of a tech sector in Trinidad and Tobago as part of our nation’s diversification strategy.

    In 2022, THIS returned to the Hyatt Regency, Port-of-Spain with the theme “Change in Action”, which sought to highlight the impactful and inspiring stories of young disruptors and innovators who are at the forefront of the digital revolution while building on the success of digital adoption achieved so far within the private and public sectors.

    For this issue of Linkage, we wanted to continue highlighting these stories so that we are building on the promise for which greater investments in technology can offer. “Change in Action” is really about channelling a new influx of creativity and innovation to show how technology can underpin a more fulfilling, productive, and profitable way of life.

    There are some brilliant examples in this issue of how the creativity and innovation of people and companies are truly bringing about positive transformation that not only redound to their benefit, but are also pushing the envelope of what is possible.

    We must keep moving forward to increase our knowledge so that we can grow and learn. Having the growth mindset for change is how we keep challenging ourselves to transform those dreams and make them into our reality—sooner rather than later.

    Here's what I hope this reality looks like for each of us:

    It is where we move beyond just talking about digital transformation and start seeing and living the examples of how digital transformation is positively altering our lives and improving our businesses.

    It is where we are more innovative in our approaches to develop the fintech ecosystem, transition to a cashless society, and improve the ease of doing business.

    It is one in which digital strategies are so operationalised and embedded that we are always attracting the best talent, clients, partners and investors to help reach our goals.

    It is one where data is at the core, driving better and more effective decision-making, enhancing the customer experience, and where digital tools enable us to future-proof our businesses from disruptions.

    It is one in which we are harnessing the opportunities technology provides so that Trinidad and Tobago is a real player in the global tech supply chain.

    Ultimately, we need to stop talking and start doing.

    Based on the feedback we received from THIS 2022, I know I am not the only person who shares this view. Currently, there is much amazing and trailblazing work happening around digital adoption in many different quarters. This work has the potential to transform our country and put us on a path of sustainable development, real progress and growth, where we are utilising technology to enhance our quality of life.

    We can create the tech ecosystem if we have a plan and start acting, but at the same time, do not act in silos. So, let’s collaborate more on providing solutions with the assistance of technology and ensure that Trinidad and Tobago becomes the major Tech Hub in the region.

    I firmly believe this is well within our strengths and capabilities. Hopefully, the articles in this issue of Linkage and the work being done by AMCHAM T&T will help inspire you to move beyond dreaming and to action as we make this digital agenda a reality.

  • 10 Sep 2022 9:32 PM | Kennedy Maraj (Administrator)



    by Nirad Tewarie

    We recently hosted our 4th Edition of the Tech Hub Islands Summit (THIS). During the three-day event, tech disruptors and innovators once more joined forces with decision-makers in both the private and public sectors to help build accelerated digital transformation and to advance the development of a Tech Hub in Trinidad and Tobago.

    THIS 2022 introduced many thought-provoking ideas and innovative concepts that can spur sustainable growth and development by increasing digital adoption. None of this is particularly revolutionary, because we already know how technology can transform our world. So, what’s stopping us from making this our reality? Truthfully, I believe the answer to this problem lies within each of us, both you and me.

    Too often, instead of confronting a problem, we allow ourselves to become overwhelmed and overburdened by a difficult situation. We believe that we are incapable of being the changemakers. We blame “the system”, without being willing to accept that the system is made up of all of us. WE ARE THE SYSTEM. We cast the blame and responsibility on someone else to find the solutions. But the truth is, we all have solutions. We are each capable of designing the future we all deserve. A future in which life is made a little simpler, easier, and better.

    That’s what we are trying to do here at AMCHAM T&T as we advocate for technology as both an enabler and as an industry. Both, we believe, have the potential to improve the quality of life for our employees and citizens.

    Turning problems into opportunities

    For example, instead of thinking that technology will replace jobs, we should be looking at how technology will enable us to engage in more meaningful work. Instead of believing technology will widen social injustice and inequality, we should be adopting technology to enhance social mobility in Trinidad and Tobago, and around the world. Those should be our goals.

    We can create conditions where technology does some of the things that we do now that maybe we don't have to do. If we can reduce some of the busy work or tedious work, we can create a better quality of life. For any job set, we can do that. We want to build a tech sector because it is not an abstract or a money thing—although that is important because you need the resources to be able to move things along. It's about how do we achieve larger objectives in the context of how we want our society to develop.

    If we keep embracing technology, there's no shortage of ideas and opportunities. However, if we keep focusing only on the problems, we will never create the Trinidad and Tobago that we want. We will never achieve the objectives that we want, and we will always be upset and angry because all we see is what we can't do or what somebody else should do. Let's create the Trinidad and Tobago that we want, in part through the development of a tech sector, because in the words of the great Calypsonian poet, the Black Stalin: "We can make it if we try just a little harder".

    This issue of Linkage adopts the same theme: “Change in Action” as THIS 2022. The idea here is simple: we are looking at where we are right now in our digital transformation journey, where we should be heading, and at the steps we need to take now to ensure that we get there and move beyond! I am certain that the articles from our contributors will inspire you to see the opportunities that come with technology, so that we can one day firmly establish T&T as a global Tech Hub and truly digital society!

  • 10 Sep 2022 9:15 PM | Kennedy Maraj (Administrator)




    Leading Through Values

    On March 10th 2020, in our management meeting we were discussing a pilot programme to experiment with our customer care folks working from home. However, this initial plan only included a handful of customer care employees.

    The first COVID case was then recorded in Trinidad on March 12th 2020 and by March 17th we had over 300 customer care staff installed with the right internet speeds, computers delivered to their houses, and they were taking calls from their homes.

    This scenario illustrates to us that as leaders, one of our biggest challenges is leading during change. Well thought out plans often must be adjusted as we face new market demands, external factors and internal dynamics. In many books and courses, we are taught that in order to deal with these rapid changes, we have to possess a flexible leadership style. We are told that we can’t always be autocratic leaders, or always try to lead by consensus, but that we must read the situation and adapt our leadership style to the most appropriate form at the moment.

    While this focus on leadership style has been helpful, I’ve found it incomplete without a focus on my own internal values.

    The constant in any leader’s career—regardless of what external changes come, are the internal values and attributes that we develop within ourselves. These values are relevant in all situations, all cultures, and all businesses. Before coming to Trinidad, I led various companies of different sizes, business situations and in different countries. What I found is that leadership style and cultural expression might differ, but certain values transcend them all.

    Here are some of the values that might seem to be simple, and goodness knows I have to work each day to develop them myself, but when we develop these values as leaders, we are able to be better leaders for our employees, our stakeholders and our communities.

    1. Integrity

    Do you say what you mean and mean what you say? When you make a promise, do you keep it despite how difficult it may be to follow through? Do you equivocate just to save face—be it internally or externally?

    When a leader doesn’t have integrity, it has a tangible impact on the culture of an organisation and sooner or later, it will begin to influence the bottom line. The absence of integrity erodes trust, which is the invisible gel and energy behind great teams. When a leader has integrity and demands it of his team, you are able to get at the truth more quickly and ensure that you take the right action at the right time for the right reasons.

    2. Respecting the Value of Others

    The great African-American writer Maya Angelou said: “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” As leaders, we can sometimes get so caught up in meeting targets and KPIs that we don’t remember that everything we do is going to be done through people.

    Do you know their strengths and weaknesses, and do you respect those strengths? Do your people feel valued? Most importantly, do you know how they want to be celebrated and appreciated? There is nothing like the energy, enthusiasm, and commitment of team members who know that they are valued by their leader.

    3. Humility

    One value that is often difficult to grasp is humility. The tricky thing about humility is that when we think we have it, it means that we don’t! But I think we can stay on safe ground by always starting from the position that the person with whom we are talking has something to teach us.

    I once read a funny story of the great fighter Muhammed Ali, where he was on an airplane and the pilot told the cabin crew to let everyone fasten their seatbelts as they were about to experience some turbulence. Eventually, one of the flight attendants came to Ali’s seat and indicated to him: “Sir, you would have to fasten your seatbelt as we’re about to experience some turbulence.” Ali replied: “Superman don’t need no seatbelt.” The flight attendant then cunningly retorted: “Superman don’t need no airplane either.” Ali, who wasn’t known for his humility, complied. We’re not omniscient leaders, we must rely on the expertise of others with humility.

    4. Continuous Improvement

    Finally, continuous improvement, or what the Japanese call Kaizen, is a value that can serve us well, regardless of the situation. When we focus on continually improving, we recognise that while our success of yesterday can disappear, our weakness of yesterday can be our strength of tomorrow. This is the fundamental basis of having what Carol Dweck calls a growth mindset—where we don’t see our skills and abilities as fixed and finite, but rather as changeable over time if we put in the effort.

    To practice this value well, we actually have to practice the other values, so that we can understand the reality of where we are at, incorporate the ideas of others, and be humble enough to change.

    When we focus on cultivating our core values—and these four are just a start—I’m confident that we can grow the results we desire in all areas of our life, including in the workplace. As we strengthen our resolve to live up to our core values, we will be able to ably lead regardless of the situations and challenges that we face.

  • 10 Sep 2022 8:58 PM | Kennedy Maraj (Administrator)


    AMCHAM T&T Set To “Re-Imagine HSSE” at 26th Annual HSSE Conference & Exhibition

    By AMCHAM T&T Staff Writer

    AMCHAM T&T will be hosting the 26th Annual Health, Safety, Security and Environment (HSSE) Conference & Exhibition from November 1st to 3rd, 2022. This year, the HSSE Conference, entitled “Re-Imagining HSSE”, will be a hybrid event, with the first two days being hosted in-person at the Hyatt Regency in Port-of-Spain and the third day virtually.

    Speaking at the launch on September 1st, 2022, at the Atlantic hospitality booth in the Queen’s Park Oval, AMCHAM T&T President Toni Sirju-Ramnarine said that “Re-Imagining HSSE” is going to have a more futuristic focus. “To move forward we must adopt a learner’s mindset—one that will help us to usher in a new era of progress and success,” she said. “We don’t want to ‘reinvent the wheel’, but we must continue building on the lessons learned to transition HSSE into a new era.”

    For AMCHAM T&T, this era will be defined more by sustainable business practices for companies to move towards net zero and utilising innovation through the increased adoption of new tools and technologies. It will also be an era that embraces new perspectives and approaches around HSSE compliance and takes a deeper philosophical look at accidents and emergencies while still maintaining all the scientific findings that have driven sound decision-making.

    “AMCHAM T&T’s drive behind the HSSE Conference is simple: we want to save lives and livelihoods,” Sirju-Ramnarine said. Therefore, AMCHAM T&T plans to explore new topics and trends outside the traditional HSSE space that are impacting both business and society. For example, the Chamber will revisit the topic of mental health, but against the backdrop of those aspects of mental health that were brought into focus by the pandemic—i.e., employees must have access to good mental health resources, and no stigma should be attached to accessing these resources.

    “Re-Imagining HSSE” will also tackle the health and safety impacts of exclusion or discriminatory practices in the workplace. Issues of diversity, equity and inclusion must be addressed in HSSE policies and guidelines to create psychologically safe workplaces that empower employees and help prevent unhealthy situations that may lead to undue stress and trauma.

    This topic will be addressed by Stephanie Le Blanc-Godfrey who is the Global Head of Inclusion for Women of Color at Google and one of the Featured Speakers at the HSSE 2022 Conference. Le Blanc-Godfrey, who spoke at the launch advised leaders to consistently reflect within themselves to ensure they are actively creating an environment for their employees to thrive. She also says leaders must model behaviors such as authenticity, vulnerability, and basic humanity to empower people and create a psychologically safe space in the workplace.

    “Our best business practices include due diligence, looking for gaps, innovation, problem-solving, and of course a commitment when times are hard,” Le Blanc-Godfrey said. “These are the same principles that we can apply to creating an environment for our employees to be their best selves and do their best work.”

    Also speaking at the Launch was this year’s Conference Headliner and Feature Speaker, Bill Simms Jr who is the President of the Bill Simms Company Inc which helps businesses across industries achieve operational excellence through safety. At the launch, Simms Jr says the presence of safety should not be determined by fewer accidents. “We need to give you a very different definition of what safety is,” Simms Jr said. “It's not the absence of accidents. It is the presence of capacity.”

    For this reason, Simms Jr said that zero injury is not the goal of safety. “The newest research will show that the closer a company gets to zero injuries, the more likely they are to have serious injury (or) fatality events,” said Simms Jr.

    “I'm going to prove it to you. I'm going to take you there. And after we've gone beyond zero injuries, you will never look at safety the same way again, right? So, your path lies beyond zero injury.”

    Other topics at the HSSE Conference will centre around Transformational Leadership, BCP & Disaster Management, Fatigue Management, Cyber Security, Process Safety, Human & Organisational Performance, Journey Management, and the Aftermath of a Serious Accident.

    The HSSE Exhibition also features 37 booths of HSE, Security, Cyber Security products.

    The event is sponsored by the following companies:


    PLATINUM SPONSORS: NGC Group of Companies; bpTT, Shell, Proman, Digital Era Group, Yara, and Woodside Energy

    GOLD SPONSORS: Nu Iron Unlimited; Point Lisas Nitrogen Limited, Heritage Petroleum Company Limited and Hitachi Systems Security Inc.

    SESSION SPONSORS: Green Engineering and EOG Resources

    Interested persons or companies seeking to attend either the Conference or Exhibition can check out the official 26th Annual Health, Safety, Security and the Environment (HSSE) Conference & Exhibition Website at for more information about the speakers, sponsors, agenda, sessions, topics, registration details, and much more.



    Bill Sims Jr. – President of the Bill Simms Company Inc

    Keynote Speaker & Author of “Green Beans & Ice Cream”

    For more than 30 years, Bill has created positive reinforcement systems with companies such as Dupont, Siemens VDO, Coca-Cola and Disney to inspire better performance from employees and increase bottomline profits. He is a world-renowned keynote speaker and recently was selected as one of the top ten speakers by the National Safety Council.

    Bill is the Feature Speaker on DAY ONE of AMCHAM T&T’s 26th Annual HSSE Conference & Exhibition.


    Stephanie LeBlanc-Godfrey – Global Head of Community Inclusion Programs for Women of Color at Google and the founder of Parenting Backwards

    Stephanie has spent over 10 years in advertising operations at major media conglomerates such as Forbes Media, FOX News Digital and NBC News Digital and has been featured on a number of podcasts, speaking on issues such as being a working mother and the impact of COVID, diversity and inclusion, early financial literacy and the nuanced path for women of colour in Corporate America.

    Her work is in service of creating spaces for women of colour to thrive and progress their careers while also influencing policies, programmes and processes for the over 50,000 parents and caregivers at Google.

    SESSION: Transformational Leadership (DAY ONE)
    TOPIC: Inclusion Culture
    SESSION: Fireside Chat (DAY THREE)


    Scott DeBow – Principal of Health/Safety & Environment at Avetta, the leading provider of supply chain risk management software.

    Scott is an active member of the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) and serves on the board for the National Safety Council (NSC: Southeast). With 19 years of progressive leadership in the realm of risk/occupational safety, Scott devotes much of his time developing safety leadership across organisations with a targeted emphasis on systems improvements to address the most critical type of risk far too easily overlooked: serious injury/fatality, or SIF.

    SESSION: Transformational Leadership (DAY ONE)
    TOPIC: “Psychological Safety: The Space ‘Between’ and the Greatest Opportunity to Care for our Workforce”
    SESSION: Serious Injury/Fatality Intervention (SIF): the Strategy and Necessity of SIF Intervention in a Joint-Employer Environment (DAY TWO)


    Eugene Tiah – Energy Consultant, Former Executive Chairman of the Energy & Industrial Gases Business Unit of The Massy Group and Former President of Phoenix Park Gas Processors Ltd (PPGPL)

    Eugene has 39 years of experience in all aspects of process plant engineering, operations and overall business management. He has held various senior executive positions in process plant operations management, project management, construction management and business development, both in Trinidad and Tobago and in the United States.

    He is the former Chairman of The Point Lisas Energy Association of CEOs (PLEA), a former President of AMCHAM T&T, and Chairman of the Board of the Energy Chamber of Trinidad and Tobago.

    SESSION: A CEO’s Challenge To Safety and Being An Industry Champion


    Sem Ponnambalam – CEO and founder of Xahive, Former Senior Trade Policy Advisor for Prime Ministers Stephen Harper, Justin Trudeau and numerous Federal Cabinet Ministers

    Sem Ponnambalam is the CEO and founder of Xahive, a cybersecurity company established to fulfill the need to provide safe, secure cybersecurity solutions in the ever-expanding, internet-based communications space.

    In 2021, Sem was recognised as one of the ten Women Lead Start-ups to invest in globally by KPMG, Viva Technology, & 50inTech. In the same year, she received special U.S. Congressional recognition for having been selected as a cybersecurity panellist for the World Summit on the Information Society.

    Sem is the co-author of three books on cybersecurity as well as of numerous articles and white papers.

    SESSION: CYBER - DAY ONE: What Keeps you up at Night


    Ricardo Martinez – Chief Revenue Officer of DigitalEra Group, a premier cybersecurity firm dedicated to providing cybersecurity solutions and services to businesses, education and governmental agencies throughout the US and Latin America.

    With more than 18 years of experience, Ricardo has a proven track record in the Americas IT security market working for global companies. Prior to DigitalEra, he served in key management roles at Tenable and McAfee where he developed a strong expertise in establishing and leading successful sales and channel teams that consistently overachieved goals.

    SESSION: CYBER - DAY ONE: Building a resilient Cybersecurity Program: How to Eat an Elephant

  • 10 Sep 2022 8:51 PM | Kennedy Maraj (Administrator)


    AMCHAM T&T and Republic Bank Celebrate “Change in Action” at THIS 2022

    By AMCHAM T&T Staff Writer

    AMCHAM T&T and Republic Bank hosted the 4th edition of the Tech Hub Islands Summit (THIS) 2022 from July 6th to 8th at the Hyatt Regency in Port-of-Spain.

    THIS is a platform that connects organisations in the private and public sectors that view digital transformation as being an accelerator for Trinidad and Tobago’s growth and economic development as well as a key to building a local tech ecosystem.

    The 2022 edition of THIS was headlined by global tech shapers Bernard Meyerson, Chief Innovation Officer Emeritus at IBM and David White, Global Technology Team Lead for Infrastructure Modernization at Google Cloud. Other notable speakers included Senator the Honourable Allyson West – Minister of Public Administration, Derwin Howell – Executive Director, Republic Bank Limited, Navin Dookeran – CEO, EximBank, Abraham Smith – CEO, Digicel Trinidad and Tobago, Carina Cockbun – IDB Trinidad and Tobago Country Representative, IDB, Zia Paton – Caribbean Digital Services Leader, PwC Trinidad and Tobago and Miles Abraham – CEO,

    The theme for this year’s event “Change in Action” was chosen to promote the adoption of technology and digital transformation through telling success stories and sharing important information on implementation.

    Toni Sirju-Ramnarine, President of AMCHAM T&T delivers the Opening Remarks at Opening Ceremony of AMCHAM T&T's 4th Edition of the Tech Hub Islands Summit (THIS) 2022.

    Speaking at the opening ceremony, AMCHAM T&T President Toni Sirju-Ramnarine said that in recent times, digital adoption has become the mainstay of our operations and human functioning. To evolve with the digital acceleration we have to make sure that we are building a world that enhances the quality of life for workers and their families, that fuels safety and convenience, that fosters interconnectedness to engender empathy and trust, and builds on and disseminates truth.

    “A digital era cannot have us worrying about worsening economic inequality because of the digital divide, big tech exploiting their market advantage to erode the privacy and autonomy of users, or the weaponisation of lies and hate speech to manipulate public perception, emotion, and action to sow hate and discord in society,” Sirju-Ramnarine said. “If technology is being harnessed to provide solutions, we will overcome these problems.”

    Sirju-Ramnarine says this can be accomplished by having a clearly defined strategy with intended goals and leadership buy-in from the decision-makers. To this point, the AMCHAM T&T President said the work must start with ensuring that digital transformation in the private sector does not outpace the rate at which it happens in the public sector or vice versa.

    “A true return on investment from digital transformation requires a coordinated and simultaneous approach between both private and public entities. We remain hopeful that the unique national e-identification will be operationalised soon, so that we can simultaneously track the state's interactions with citizens while ensuring equitable access to public benefits and services for every citizen.”

    With Trinidad and Tobago having the largest financial services industry in the English-speaking Caribbean, Sirju-Ramnarine says we can leverage this to develop a thriving Fintech ecosystem to boost innovation, advance financial inclusion, strengthen public financial management systems, and promote positive economic transformation.

    “With the right mix of incentives, policies, and legislation to promote growth, innovation, and adoption, we can build this Fintech ecosystem,” she said.

    However, she recommends research and development must be at the core of the growth strategy to realise investments in technology. “One of the recommendations to the Government for inclusion in the upcoming budget is to support R&D in private companies through the allowance of a write-off of 75% of the working capital used to support innovation against chargeable income tax, up to a limit of 2% of a company’s annual revenue in the prior year. We hope this recommendation will be taken into consideration.”

    Sirju-Ramnarine also advocates for a robust governance framework to guide this tech ecosystem, since many businesses are now relying on technology and software to provide key services and collect vast amounts of data from their customers.

    “We will need more efficient cybersecurity networks and the implementation of the Electronic Transactions Act, Data Protection Act and the Transfer of Funds Act, coupled with policies to protect the free sharing of open data, to ensure the vital success of our digital journey.”

    Finally, she recommends the development of a nearshoring sector in T&T for foreign companies seeking to establish operations in new locations. “We believe this is what will keep us attractive to foreign investors seeking to fill their digital transformation gaps as they look to outsource their operations to other territories.”

    “We have held meetings with the Ministers of Trade and Digital Transformation on this proposal and are pleased to say that both Ministries have agreed to work in collaboration with us on the initiative.”

  • 10 Sep 2022 8:38 PM | Kennedy Maraj (Administrator)



    By AMCHAM T&T Staff Writer

    The current and future economic outlook may seem gloomy due to recent geopolitical conflicts, climate change effects, and the ongoing pandemic. However, in its 2022-2023 National Budget Recommendations submitted to the Ministry of Finance in July 2022, AMCHAM T&T stated that these combined factors are also highlighting areas where Trinidad and Tobago can grow and have room for improvement.

    “There is an opportunity here for Trinidad and Tobago to get back on track and position ourselves as a place of real progress and sustainability,” the report outlined. For this to happen, AMCHAM T&T says any budget or economic recovery plan must focus on rebuilding and stabilising the economy, increasing the country’s resilience, enhancing social development, and strengthening the business environment to improve the overall quality of life for every citizen.

    The key to making this a reality is to shift the priority to a mixture of recovery efforts and sustainability projects that will keep T&T thriving in the post-COVID world. “The recovery process must be hinged on attracting local and foreign capital,” the report said. “The Economic Recovery & Growth Plan must have clear objectives that centre on ensuring the quality of life and social harmony, being a prerequisite for a more attractive business environment.”

    AMCHAM T&T has outlined six thematic areas that can enhance economic recovery and increase growth to achieve this. These are:

    - Digital Transformation

    - Data for Decision Making

    - Ease of Doing Business (EDB)

    - Cross-cutting EDB Issues

    - National Security

    - Energy Sector

    Digital Transformation

    The digital transformation of the economy is bound to be an important indicator in any measure to ensure economic recovery, citizen satisfaction and sustainable growth. The report outlined the following recommendations to achieve this:

    1. The creation and implementation of an ICT skills development and education policy that will enable global ICT competitiveness in select sub-sectors. AMCHAM T&T recommends this can be accomplished by engaging with private sector organisations and universities to develop the critical mass of designers, coders and analysts to fill existing gaps in capabilities and competencies.

    2. Enabling Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) methods for critical government services would have a major impact on revenue generation, improving convenience, quality of service and reducing cost and friction in dealing with the government for citizens.

    3. The facilitation and acceleration of a “digital policy” refresh for existing digital strategies, policies, and frameworks must be completed and adopted to support innovation within the government. Some of these policies are:

    •    Open-Source Policy
    •  Remote Working Policy Suite
    •  Data Strategy, Policy, and Framework
    •  GORTT Asset Management
    •  Open Government Policy
    •  Cloud Computing (Cloud options for Whole of Government approach)
    •  e-Government Omnibus Technical Standards (e-GOTS)
    •  e-Government Interoperability Framework (e-GIF)
    •  Change Management Policy
    •  ISO/IEC 27000 series

    4. Establishing a data interoperability framework by creating standards and guidelines that a government uses to specify the preferred way that its agencies, citizens and partners interact with each other. This would allow for greater participation from the private sector in developing solutions to support citizen service delivery and accelerate the government’s digital transformation agenda.

    5. Implementing a National Unique Identifier and Legal Digital Identity would eliminate the need for obtaining documentation from one state agency to present and do business with another state agency, and ultimately, help improve the ease of doing business for the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago.

    6. Developing a National Cyber Security Strategy would ensure that the data generated would be kept secure and unauthorised access prevented. AMCHAM T&T says the strategy should include:

    I. An updated cyber security policy.

    II. Registry of critical infrastructure assets to ensure plans for cyber resilience are developed given recent cyber-attacks on local institutions.

    III. Update of the Cybercrime Bill to be laid in Parliament with suggested private sector amendments.

    IV. Capacity-building includes training provided for persons implementing, using, and being affected by the policy.

    7. Adopting a Solution Accelerator programme to appoint a multifunctional team (Private Sector, Trade, Finance, Education, Ministry of Digital Transformation /iGovTT) to identify suitable use cases and opportunities to further the use of Technology and have them act as a feeder into the student projects and internships for the Tertiary education Schools / Universities.

    Data for Decision Making

    Deficiencies in data collection and reporting were highlighted as one of the primary factors affecting the country’s credit rating. Therefore, the National Statistical Institute is considered a critical component of effective planning for the future. AMCHAM T&T recommends prioritising the National Statistical Institute (NSI) and its resource requirements to attain better quality data sets on the national economy and to improve the frequency of such data updates/delivery to the CSO.

    Additionally, AMCHAM T&T recommends establishing an “Accountability Council” to engage and account to the public and external stakeholders on the country’s transformation plan. “We believe true transformation can only occur in the right climate, and that is one in which we have an aligned ’management and engagement‘ of the country’s transformation agenda with the people who are accountable to make change happen,” the report outlines. AMCHAM T&T sees this as a joint effort with labour, civil society, government and private sector reporting (at the most senior levels) to the public on a regular cadence on what is being done and why with opportunities for citizen engagement and responses to questions and concerns.

    Also, as Trinidad and Tobago works toward Vision 2030 and become a developed nation, AMCHAM T&T is urging the government to adopt and implement an internationally recognised public sector accounting system such as International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS). This would allow for more comprehensive and transparent reporting of assets and liabilities, which would in turn lead to better decision-making for resource allocation and expenditure.

    Ease of Doing Business (EDB)

    To improve EDB in Trinidad and Tobago, AMCHAM T&T believes the express parcel industry to be an important component of our competitiveness. Shipments should be able to be processed within 24–48 hours from the beginning of the last-mile process to the end. Therefore, AMCHAM T&T is recommending the implementation of a fully automated customs process and functional integration with TTBizLink. Additionally, revamping customs hours and redesigning locations to increase the efficiency at the airports and sea ports should be considered.

    Once again, AMCHAM T&T is recommending that customs immediately implement and use the risk assessment module of ASYCUDA to prevent long delays for shipments, which incur hefty additional expenses for business, such as storage costs.

    Additional recommendations to improve the ease of doing business at customs were attributed to re-implementing the 2011 procedure of clearing commercial shipments valued at TT$20,000 or below without an entry, replacing the Online Purchase Tax (OPT) with the implementation of the $10.00 airway bill fee, and implementing the de minimis value set at US$400 to ensure a much more efficient system that would lead to increased collection of much-needed revenue.

    Cross-Cutting EDB Issues

    AMCHAM T&T is also recommending developing a comprehensive migration policy to meet the needs of increased development without over-burdening social services. This recommendation is in response to an ageing population and falling labour force participation rate. AMCHAM T&T says a comprehensive national migration policy and strategy that addresses economic migration, refugees and asylum seekers, and integration of migrants into local life, would be required to achieve this goal.

    There is also the need for an advanced tax ruling system, which would allow companies to clarify and better comply with tax regulations. This would increase revenue collection, contribute to the creation of a transparent tax regime, and increase confidence in the tax system. Additionally, AMCHAM T&T is requesting an amendment to the Income Tax Act to allow for mediation and other alternative dispute resolution for tax disputes and to address the VAT refund system. The latter should be handled using a separate system from income and corporation taxes to ensure that funds are available from the VAT collected to issue VAT refunds.

    National Security

    AMCHAM T&T believes strengthening the Judiciary and the rehabilitation of convicts will go a long way in improving the crime situation in Trinidad and Tobago. To ameliorate the high and seemingly out of control crime rate, the report recommends using digitised platforms to establish clear timelines for the hearing and conclusion of cases by category, and the digitisation of case files with an option to transfer cases from one justice to another in the event of death, retirement etc.

    In managing white-collar crime, AMCHAM T&T recommends a national policy should be created and implemented for both public and private sector organisations to adopt whistleblowing, while greater training is needed for collaboration with the Financial Investigations Unit (FIU) and the judicial system to adopt international best practices in the interest of the national community.

    Energy Sector

    AMCHAM T&T says a National Energy Policy is necessary and should include measures to maximise productivity and profitability in the short-term and promote the transition to renewable and energy efficient practices in the medium- to long-term.

    The recommendations outlined for the short-term include measures to accelerate the development of oil resources, on- and off-shore, in the shortest possible timeframe. This should include further incentivisation of private capital and partnerships to support the development of resources held by Heritage Petroleum. Meanwhile, additional measures include increasing exploration and development work in shallow water maturing gas fields, increasing exploration in deep water, and supporting and promoting energy services as an export product.

    Some of the recommendations outlined to position T&T to be well placed in the energy transition include measures to:

    • Incentivise existing operators in the upstream and downstream to make investments required to reduce emissions to create less carbon-intensive energy exports
    • Support R&D and investment in carbon capture and storage
    • Support further development and investment in hydrogen
    • Develop a national plan for the introduction of EVs and the phasing out of ICE vehicles over time
    • Support the development of EV charging networks across the islands
    • Incentivise investment in energy efficiency, e.g. reduction or removal of taxes on LED bulbs
    • Create policy and regulation that allows private citizens to invest in home solar systems and sell excess capacity into the grid

    Nearshoring Strategy

    Responding to suggestions for post-COVID growth, AMCHAM T&T recommends developing a nearshoring strategy to ensure that diversification remains at the forefront of the government’s agenda. “It is important that we plan and mobilise quickly to ensure that we capitalise on the unique economic circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic in the Eastern Hemisphere, worldwide impacts from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the geopolitical instability in other countries that may be competitors for these investments,” the report says.

    Some of the immediate measures outlined for focus and action were related to Information Technology Enabled Services (ITES). “Rather than reinvent the wheel, look to Jamaica as a benchmark from which to leverage learnings and best practices from their success and growing Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)/Offshoring industry, which is a prioritised sector under their National Export Strategy (NES), and build on recent successes of InvesTT in this regard,” the report said.

    AMCHAM T&T says government must develop a deliberate strategy for nearshoring to fulfill a national objective of job creation opportunities with ITES as phase 1 and Robotics Process Automation, Software Development, ICT Platforms and Services, Energy Engineering Services, Education Training and Manufacturing in phase II.

    Additionally, government will need to implement a National Task Force with a specialised team, budget and mandate around a five-year national strategy for the development of Trinidad’s nearshoring industry. There must be a solid vision with government support for sector development.


    AMCHAM T&T’s 2022–2023 National Budget Recommendations were submitted to the Ministry of Finance in July 2022. The nineteen-page report outlines the major policy actions that AMCHAM T&T believes will attract local and foreign capital to rebuild and stabilise the economy, enhance social development and strengthen the business environment to improve the overall quality of life for every citizen. In light of this, AMCHAM T&T is committed to collaborating and working with the Government of Trinidad and Tobago on these initiatives that will lead to the development and transformation of our country. We stand ready, as always, to lend any assistance the government may need in implementing any of the recommendations put forward.

    View the FULL REPORT -

  • 10 Sep 2022 8:30 PM | Kennedy Maraj (Administrator)



    By The Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago

    The demand for faster, more efficient digital technologies is increasing exponentially due to the general thirst for information, global news, communication and entertainment. These demands can and are being met with 5G technology.

    The Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT) currently has a document titled “Framework for Fifth Generation (5G) Public Mobile Telecommunications Network” undergoing the first round of public consultation. The public consultation is the prelude to the full introduction of 5G in Trinidad and Tobago.

    The TATT framework was developed to create the regulatory environment necessary to support the introduction and development of 5G networks in Trinidad and Tobago.

    The adoption of these networks nationally will facilitate the goal of improving connectivity for persons, even in the country’s most remote areas. This is consistent with TATT’s vision of becoming a leading information and communications technology regulator, enabling an empowered and connected society.

    It is also consistent with the thematic area of Improving Connectivity in the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago’s National Information and Communications Technology Plan for 2018 to 2022.

    The pertinent thematic area of the ICT Blueprint, Improving Connectivity, focuses on advancing the deployment of ICT infrastructure to support securely connected people, businesses and government. Given the evolution of the demands of the public and stakeholders, and the advancements in technology, the deployment of contemporary mobile telecommunications networks is essential for achieving this objective.

    Additionally, the framework supports the International Telecommunication Union (ITU)-specific criteria for 5G, including:

    1) enhanced mobile broadband with speeds of 100 Mbit/s, making it possible to offer ultra-high-definition content and virtual reality experiences

    2) ultra-reliable and low latency communications (URLLC) such as autonomous driving and industrial automation

    3) massive machine-type communications, for example, traffic management

    4) fixed wireless access, i.e., the ability to offer fibre-type speeds to homes and businesses using new wider frequency bands, massive multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) and 3D beamforming technologies

    It is clear from the criteria supplied by the ITU that 5G is a superior technology with the capacity to exceed what currently exists. It is expected to meet the demands of individuals as well as private and public sector organisations in the future, particularly because of the rapid changes taking place on a global scale. This technology will aid the maximisation of processes in critical sectors such as service industries, manufacturing, and energy.

    The preparation of this framework by TATT indicates the organisation’s proactive nature as it considers future demands for high-quality technology, faster speeds and good connectivity by individuals, public and private sector organisations in light of prevailing global trends.

    These trends range from changes in how business is conducted, education and health care delivered to the possible impact of pandemics and natural disasters on countries.

    Trinidad and Tobago, like other Caribbean countries, must implement systems and procedures to ensure digital connectivity as it is essential for continuity no matter the prevailing circumstances:

    a) Public and private organisations must effectively serve the needs of the people

    b) Communication between public and private organisations and the general public in normal times and particularly during emergencies is crucial

    c) Work routines as far as possible must remain uninterrupted

    d) Education at all levels continue

    e) Entertainment – in person or virtual - remains accessible

    f) Person-to-person communication remains uninterrupted


    Fifth Generation public mobile telecommunications networks utilise next-generation mobile technology, which is expected to transform the role of mobile communications in society.

    5G technologies, among other things, allow for higher download speeds and have the capacity to increase download speeds by up to 20 times (from 200 Mbps (4G) to 10 Gbps (5G)) and decreasing latency (response time between devices).

    Not only will 5G meet the evolving requirements of local consumers, but it can also have a transformative impact on businesses, to the extent that it is being hailed as vital to the fourth industrial revolution, which calls for greater use of mobile technology and yields increased mobile data benefit.

    It will facilitate the creation of new industries offering new user experiences and is expected to support millions of devices at ultrafast speeds. This, when coupled with higher performance, increased availability and a consistent user experience, 5G wireless technology has the potential to transform the lives of people around the world.

    5G technology is critical for telemedicine, assisting medical professionals in remote locations to access critical information at faster speeds, access information that can help save lives before or during a disaster and put persons in touch with each other very quickly.

    5G technology has the potential to be the answer to many of the challenges of our changing times.

    The stakeholders are encouraged to join the consultation on the Framework for Fifth Generation (5G) Public Mobile Telecommunications Networks in Trinidad and Tobago.

    Click for Public Consultation Comment Submission Form. You may email your submissions to

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