AMCHAM T&T Achieves Gender Parity with the Appointment of Two Female Directors to Board
The American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago (AMCHAM T&T) welcomes two highly respected women to its Board of Directors with the appointment of Andrea Davis, Country Manager of DHL Express and Angélique Parisot-Potter, Executive Vice President of Business Integrity & Group General Counsel at Massy Group of Companies. With the addition of these two women, who were invited to serve to fill two casual vacancies that arose, AMCHAM T&T has achieved a strategic goal of reaching gender parity with a new board consisting of eight (8) men and eight (8) women.
AMCHAM T&T is a long-standing advocate for gender parity in all sectors of society. We have committed ourselves to this work because achieving gender parity and promoting women’s leadership in business is one of the major pillars of AMCHAM T&T. After all, we’re in 2020! Our commitment to this goal continues through the hosting of the annual Women’s Leadership Conference, the Women in Leadership Mentorship Programme which provides career advice and mentorship to female professionals across various industry sectors in the private sector and a soon-to-be-launched series of gender based violence sensitization workshops in collaboration with the UWI Institute for Gender and Development Studies.
Patricia Ghany, President of AMCHAM T&T says this is an important achievement and a clear case of AMCHAM T&T walking the talk. “Reaching gender parity is another significant milestone for AMCHAM T&T. I am very proud and humble to lead an organisation that boasts of an equal number of men and women sitting on our Board of Directors. This guarantees greater diversity of ideas, opinions, values and positions that will no doubt benefit our members, the business community and by large, our nation. I see this as the starting block towards building the progressive, fully democratic society that we all envisioned.”
“It was only one year ago at our Women’s Leadership Conference when I asked our members to commit to adding at least one woman to their Boards every year so that parity could be their goal. Now that AMCHAM T&T has reached parity on our board, I would like to re-state that call-to-action to our members so that they make gender parity a part of their business objectives while they lead their companies through this pandemic.”
Meanwhile, Nirad Tewarie, CEO of AMCHAM T&T says it is an honor for him to be part of an organisation that continues to lead by action and not merely by words. “Achieving gender parity on a board level is a tremendous success for AMCHAM T&T and signals the real commitment and
steadfast leadership on this issue by our President, Patricia Ghany and the members of the current board. This gives AMCHAM T&T more incentive to continue our advocacy on promoting the rights and protection of both women and men in the workplace and the wider society until we build that equal and equitable society for all.”
AMCHAM T&T BOARD OF DIRECTORS FOR 2020 – 2021:
• President - Patricia Ghany, Finance Director - Esau Oilfield Supplies Co. Ltd
• Vice President - Mitchell De Silva, Citi Country Officer T&T Hub - Citibank
• Vice President - Gregory Hill, Managing Director - ANSA Merchant Bank Limited
• Secretary - Glenn Hamel-Smith, Partner, Head Banking and Finance - Hamel-Smith
• Treasurer - Dominic Rampersad, President - Phoenix Park Gas Processors Ltd.
• Caroline Toni Sirju Ramnarine, VP, Corporate Operations - Atlantic LNG Company Limited
• Giselle Thompson, VP Corporate Operations - bpTT
• Simon Aqui, Business Development Executive, Caribbean Financial Services Sector - IBM Trinidad
• Greer Quan, Chief Executive Officer, Caribbean - Pan-American Life Insurance Group
• Katishe Serrette, VP-AML/ATF Compliance - Scotiabank Trinidad & Tobago Limited
• Karrian Hepburn, Chief Customer Relationship Officer - Trinidad & Tobago Unit Trust Corporation
• Nicholas Galt, Chairman - Trinidad Systems Limited (The TSL Group)
• Ravi Suryadevara, CEO - Trinidad Valve & Fitting Company
• Richard Look Kin, Group Chief Risk Officer - First Citizens Trinidad & Tobago
• Andrea Davis, Country Manager - DHL Express
• Angélique Parisot-Potter, Executive Vice President of Business Integrity & Group General Counsel - Massy Group of Companies.
Conklin: “Companies Need To Address Resilience to Bounce Back From Crisis”
Dr Todd Conklin, Feature Speaker at AMCHAM T&T's 23rd Annual HSSE Conference & Exhibition (2019)
AMCHAM T&T hosted the Webinar: “Building Resilience – Bouncing Back from the Crisis” with Dr Todd Conklin, Human Performance Expert. This is one of several events leading up to our 24th Annual (Virtual) Health, Safety, Security and Environment Conference and Exhibition which is scheduled for October 19th – 23rd, 2020.
Nirad Tewarie, CEO of AMCHAM T&T, who delivered the Opening Remarks says while COVID-19 has been both destructive and disruptive it has also taught us how to build RESILIENCE – which is the official theme of this year’s Conference and Exhibition. “We believe it is important today for every citizen, and every business and every nation to build resilience if they hope to successfully bounce back from this crisis. It may mean adjusting to a different reality and trying things differently.”
Dr Conklin, who is the Senior Advisor at Los Alamos National Laboratory, has spent the past 15 years teaching global industry leaders how to think of “safety differently” through the Human & Organizational Performance (HOP) philosophy. At this morning’s webinar, he said companies need to address resilience in their current systems to bounce back from the crisis since the future has always been uncertain and cannot be controlled. “To do that we have to redefine the way we think about safety. We know safety is not the absence of failure, safety is not the absence of uncertainty, safety is not the absence of accidents, but safety for us is the presence of capacity and resilience.”
Much like Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs”, Conklin says workers will adapt to a crisis by first securing their personal safety before addressing the needs of the company. “Once that surety of life is met then workers will think about the surety of the company. What’s amazing about this chart is that employers absolutely understood at a fundamental level that you had to take care of their employee’s needs before they could take care of the essential functioning that is needed to happen in the organization.”
He describes the current crisis as a “VUCA” environment i.e. a situation marked by significant increases in volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA). In this unfamiliar environment, companies are making very important operational decisions quickly to ongoing changes that are unpredictable and out of their control with very small amounts of operational information and intelligence. “This environment is dynamic and incredibly connected. There are many interdependencies but no one part of the system is really more important than any other part of the system,” says Conklin.
He advises that VUCA environments require leaders to do things differently. “In a VUCA environment, we want to actually seek diverse opinions. We want to look for expertise in your operations that exists at every single level of your organization. Diversity in every form i.e. thought, experience, position, gives us a broader range of information by which we can make our decisions and make us more successful.”
Conklin said the crisis has shown that our systems are brittle, and anticipation has not been a legitimate strategy. He reports that there is a loss of reciprocity, and more learning and adapting need to be done. He says the difference between measuring and monitoring becomes an important part of understanding how we anticipate the operational future. “Counting on one another is an incredible valuable operational capacity. The ability to be agile, the ability to zig and zag, workers making sense out of their world and creating product, learning and adapting are fundamental to capacity.”
He says bouncing back from the crisis will require companies to discuss with their staff, and questions about the rules that went away during the crisis that doesn’t need to come back and the rules that went away during the pandemic that they will need to maintain. ”Those are the ones we want to look at, reinforce and bring back into the system i.e. rules, policies, processes, procedures that are part of the operations of the company.”
AMCHAM T&T’s annual HSSE conference for the first time will be held virtually on October 19th – 23rd 2020. The virtual conference will offer cutting-edge content on topics related to Mental Health, Cyber Security, Environment and Energy Transition by local and international experts in the HSSE field. There will also be a virtual exhibition for companies to share information and showcase their products and services.
The “Building Resilience – Bouncing Back from the Crisis” Webinar is a series of Pre-Conference Webinars organized by AMCHAM T&T’s H.S.E. Committee that will offer key insights into our upcoming annual HSSE Conference and Exhibition. AMCHAM T&T would like to thank the Title Sponsor: Atlantic LNG; our Platinum Sponsors: NGC, Bp, BHP, and Shell; and our Gold Sponsor: Nu-Iron Trinidad and Tobago for their support to host this Webinar. AMCHAM T&T remains strongly committed to our members and the wider business community as we continue to work on your behalf through these challenging times.
For further questions or comments please contact: Nirad Tewarie, CEO AMCHAM T&T at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AMCHAM T&T Congratulates Dr the Hon Keith Rowley and the PNM on Election Victory
AMCHAM T&T would like to congratulate Dr. the Hon Keith Rowley and the People’s National Movement (PNM) on their victory at the polls on 10 August, 2020. We look forward to working collaboratively with the new Government to improve the business environment to foster greater economic growth and overall social development.
We also extend congratulations to all newly elected members of Parliament and to the recently appointed Senators and Ministers of Government. We look forward to working with them all on legislative and policy matters.
We note with some degree of pride, that our country can continue to boast of political stability even during periods in which election results are not declared immediately.
We believe this second consecutive term of government should provide the government greater incentive to engage in a robust legislative agenda that would radically transform our society by greatly improving the ease of doing business and the quality of life for all citizens.
Specifically, we are looking forward to the prioritization and fast-tracking of the full implementation of the Public Procurement Bill, The Bail Amendment Bill, Transformed Tax Collection and Administration, Customs and Immigration transformation, including full implementation of the ASYCUDA system.
As we continue to manage the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we look forward to meaningful dialogue and engagement with the incoming government particularly on issues related to trade and investment opportunities, legislative reform, maintaining law and order, and the plans for the digital transformation of our entire society. In that regard, we are greatly encouraged by the explicit addition of the Digital Transformation title to the Ministry of Public Administration and Digital Transformation.
We are grateful to both parties for placing such high importance to the digital economy as a matter of priority in their campaigns this year and we trust that Government will stay true to their commitment to delivering this digital governance agenda to our citizens and that the Opposition will constructively support this objective.
AMCHAM T&T has been a long proponent of digital transformation as we have repeatedly called for a legal digital identity, single national identification number, full acceptance of electronic signatures by the GORTT and to fully implement the legislative arrangements and processes for e-payments. With COVID-
19 still a real threat, we believe a large part of the solution to securing our nation’s economy lies in the swift digital transformation in both the public and private sectors.
Our country and indeed the world is in a very unstable, uncertain place. To ensure we are successful in meeting the myriad of challenges before us, we believe this moment in our nation’s history requires collaborative, bold and clear leadership that truly addresses the real issues affecting the lives of citizens.
We, therefore, repeat our often-made call that the government and opposition put aside petty differences and work towards leading the meaningful change that will improve the quality of life for our citizens. It is our hope and, indeed, expectation of all government and state officials that their stewardship will be underpinned by the principles of transparency, adherence to the rule of law, respect for labour, and management of the environment.
As always, we stand ready, willing, and able to collaborate to achieve these objectives.
For further questions or comments please contact: Nirad Tewarie, CEO AMCHAM T&T at email@example.com.
Three Key Steps to Move T&T in the Right Direction
Trinidad and Tobago is at a pivotal moment in its social and economic trajectory since our independence. The ability of the oil & gas industry to power up and lift the country’s nose over the waves of external economic realities is fading fast, and we believe that Trinidad and Tobago as it is currently configured, will not sufficiently alter its decade long trajectory of decline, both in nominal GDP and in social cohesion, as evidenced by the decrease in total economic output since the peak of hydrocarbon production in the last decade, reduction in productivity, the recent and continuing closure of several plants in Point Lisas and the increases in the incidence rates of serious and violent crime.
Trinidad and Tobago is a vulnerable, small island nation state with a small population. We do, however, enjoy a stable democracy and strong historical international and multi-lateral partnerships. Positive directional change will almost certainly require Private Sector, Government, Labour and Civil Society to develop a new “joined-up national team”; restore and elevate our functional relationships with our key allies and trading partners to that of VVIP status, create new economic spaces and become obsessed about improving what we have. We believe the following three key next steps will move us in the right direction.
ESTABLISH AN “ACCOUNTABILITY COUNCIL” TO ENGAGE AND ACCOUNT TO THE PUBLIC AND OUR EXTERNAL STAKEHOLDERS ON THE COUNTRY’S TRANSFORMATION PLAN.
Transformation efforts although well-intentioned, are often derailed by various roadblocks known or unknown at the time. Without constant communication this leads to unmanaged expectations and broken promises on a large scale. Accountability drives focus and therefore potential for real action; we believe what we have seen in the last few months can work on a larger scale. We have seen the success of the current administration in its management of the Covid-19 epidemic by formulating policy based on data and science, taking quick and decisive action, and creating a forum for those accountable engaging with the national population at a cadence we have never seen before, and which created a strong sense of alignment in the nation around this issue. 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. We see 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. Creating these high level objectives, specific milestones, pre-defined metrics of success and communicating the progress are the ever-present responsibilities and job of leadership, and it is only through collaborative engagement can we be responsible and accountable for this and make it real. This can be achieved by repurposing existing tri-partite institutions such as the NTAC or through the creation of an additional body.
PRIORITIZE EFFICIENCY, TRANSPARENCY, STABILITY AND PREDICTABILITY in our political and economic climate and improve our scores vis à vis those who we benchmark against in this region (and we should see the hemisphere as our region) regarding Ease of Doing Business and the Rule of Law.
AMCHAM T&T’s immediate priorities are the fast-tracking and implementation of the following areas of legislation, old and new: Public Procurement, The Bail Bill, Transformed Tax collection and administration, Customs and Immigration transformation including full implementation of the ASYCUDA system, the adoption of a single national identification number, full acceptance of electronic signatures by the GORTT and fully-implemented legislative arrangements and processes for e-payments., We are convinced that these measures will collectively revolutionize the ease of doing business in Trinidad and Tobago. We must simplify and not remain in bondage to age old bureaucratic practices which originated pre-independence.
RESTORE AND ELEVATE THE IMPORTANCE OF OUR TRUSTED INTERNATIONAL PARTNERS.
Our multilateral and bi-lateral relationships must be underpinned by the principles of transparency, adherence to the rule of law, respect for labour, and management of the environment. These must be geared toward attracting investment that is mutually beneficial and sustainable for both the investors (and investor countries) and Trinidad and Tobago. As such, we should give primacy to our relationships with countries which are likely sources of FDI and who also espouse and uphold our governance and business values. Specifically, we should engage the United States of America to develop initiatives that could form the basis of investment for growth under the America Crece programme and formalize this via an MOU through the US Embassy in Port-of-Spain. Simultaneously, we must continue to support the development of the economies of CARICOM and work towards the full implementation of the Single Economy. This must however be done with the recognition that CARICOM is not going to pull us out of where we find ourselves, and with the near total collapse of the tourism industry, several Caribbean countries will themselves need innovative stabilization and growth strategies over the next decade.
Human and Organizational Performance (HOP) To Improve Safety Culture in Business
AMCHAM T&T launched the first in a series of Pre-Conference Webinars aimed at providing key insights into our upcoming 24th Annual HSSE Conference and Exhibition by highlighting the importance of “Human & Organizational Performance (HOP) in Practice”.
HOP (also called the “New View” or “Safety Differently" in some circles) is a global movement towards using the social sciences to better understand how to design resilient systems. Cindi Nandlal, AMCHAM T&T’s H.S.E. Committee Chair, who moderated the Webinar, says the HOP approach “tries to create a forgiving system by designing failure into the process and allowing the failure to be successfully intervened by controls and safeguards. It also approaches workers as the solution and not the issue to be resolved.”
AMCHAM T&T has championed the promotion of HSSE as a best practice to business for many years and this is where we believe HOP can play a vital role in shaping the safety culture of many companies. With COVID-19 remaining an imminent threat to human health and disruptive to business, companies will need to invest more in advancing the safety culture of their operations. That means we expect to see companies adopt new approaches, new designs, new philosophies to protect their employees in the workplace while redefining what the safety culture should look like.
Speaking at the launch, Nirad Tewarie, AMCHAM T&T CEO said while humans are known to fail by making errors and breaking the rules, by utilizing the HOP principles these failures will allow companies to design better systems with better rules and methods of discipline to solve a problem. “Many times, when accidents occur, we often blame it on human error or the failure to do the right thing when something bad happens. So, our focus is always meant on “fixing” the worker when they make an error after an incident occurs as opposed to “fixing the system” in which the error occurred.”
“That is why we say HOP is not just a program, it is an entire philosophy, which when adopted in the right way, we can establish a local safety culture change in business and in our society,” he says.
Tewarie said HOP will call for management and CEOs to change their attitudes and challenge their biases when it comes to adopting the right safety measures for their businesses. “It is the difference between asking the right questions to find a better solution and being stuck in our biases towards error and blame. It teaches us how we ask questions, how we create rules, how we react to failure, how we treat people.”
Kym Bancroft, Health and Safety Manager, People & Safety at Queensland Urban Utilities HQ in Australia who was the Featured Speaker at the Webinar says the HOP principles can help companies design resilient systems to improve the safety culture within their organizations. She says making an error is normal because even “the best human makes a mistake occasionally,” and therefore “blame fixes nothing because it takes up a significant amount of emotional and intellectual space with little added value to us.”
She says companies should follow the HOP principles where “context or systems drive behaviour” and management should look at “why did that person choose to do that in the context that they were working in and how can we discover that? How can we spend time with the worker to really find out their local rationality and what's driving their behaviour?”
Bancroft also added that “learning and improvement are vital to the health of an organisation and to its future success. So, a culture of learning is both strategic and an operational choice.” She says the response of leaders’ matter so they must be “highly cognizant of how they respond to failure when it occurs and how they are going to respond to incidents and an error.”
Bancroft said companies can best use these ideas to improve their safety systems and save lives by “being curious, demand evidence and think critically, and then go away and put it into practice.” She recommends companies should begin with conducting research to discover the causes of worker’s frustration in relation to their safety which would provide opportunities for companies to resolve these problems. She says companies should then design education awareness around the HOP principles but recommends allowing opportunities for employees to challenge it so that the system can be improved and work for everyone.
“I cannot overstate the importance of this if you've got something important to tell your people like the HOP principles, give them the opportunity to hear it, to debate it, to challenge it, to pull it apart and then give them the invite and say, 'look you may not agree with this but just give it a go.' This will allow them time to unpack it and put it into practice,” she says.
She warns there is no point in investing in training that is new and interesting but not useful. She says three tools that should be introduced on the back of the training is 1) Decluttering which refers to the accumulation of safety procedures, roles and activities that are performed in the name of safety, but do not contribute to the safety of operations. 2) Work insight which examines work as imagined contrasted with work as done i.e. how work actually happens, and 3) Restorative Culture which looks at changing the workplace culture from blame and accuse to learn and grow to make safety, safer for everyone.
The “Human & Organizational Performance (HOP) in Practice” Webinar is the first in a series of Pre-Conference Webinars organized by AMCHAM T&T’s H.S.E. Committee that will offer key insights into our upcoming annual HSSE Conference and Exhibition in October. AMCHAM T&T would like to thank Ms Cindi Nandlal, Chairperson of our H.S.E. Committee for moderating the Webinar and to our Title Sponsor: AtlanticLNG and our Platinum Sponsors: NGC, Bp and Shell for their support to host this Webinar. AMCHAM T&T remains strongly committed to our members and the wider business community as we continue to work on your behalf through these challenging times.
Tech Start-ups to Boost T&T’s Economy
AMCHAM T&T hosted the Webinar: “Stories from Tech Start-Ups” as part of our “Coffee Shop Conversation” series to promote technology as a viable means to stimulate the economy and enable growth.
AMCHAM T&T believes a tech eco-system that promotes start-ups and entrepreneurship will boost the tech industry to be a significant source of investment in the short term for T&T and ultimately create new and exciting jobs, boost entrepreneurship, and increase the talent pool through innovation and competitiveness.
AMCHAM T&T CEO, Nirad Tewarie said countries and cities that have invested in tech start-ups have witnessed a major tech revolution that has improved the quality of life for citizens. “Once priority was given to tech-driven start-up economies, cities have seen development in areas such as transportation, clean energy and the emergence of other innovative industries that have positively contributed to overall GDP growth and productivity.”
He says government and institutions need to be dynamic in their approach to create a viable, globally competitive tech industry. “Next door, Barbados’ open-door policy, allows people to work from Barbados for up to a year, hassle-free and is already attracting applications from highly-skilled tech workers,” Tewarie says. “Undoubtedly, some of these people will form partnerships that will help Bajan companies internationalise. Some of them will stay in Barbados and create businesses. Barbados has created a regulatory sandbox for fintech and they are undertaking significant economic reforms.”
He says the established tech centres have to look outside the centre if they want to stay in the race to find the next best thing and attract the very best talent. “Now is a great time for T&T and the entire Caribbean to leverage the strengths of excellent management of the pandemic, wonderful climate, creative people, great connectivity and so much more to really go after being the tech hub islands," he said.
Gerard Thomas, Head of Innovation and Business Development at Agostini Ltd. and CEO/Founder of Launch RockIt Community says entrepreneurs need to look at opportunities that focus on really helping people before they try to sell a solution or idea. “We have seen in the technology space about really understanding customers, and though we have great solutions and ideas, many times entrepreneurs come forward with the approach of ‘I have an idea’ but the direction should be “what problem can I solve and who has this problem and how can I help them’.”
“So my advice to anyone building a tech start-up would be, even though you have an idea, try to find the right people or organizations that have challenges and really understand their challenges to see how you can help them,” he says.
Leslie Lee Fook, Managing Director, Incus Services says there needs to be a more collaborative environment to really catalyse growth and development of tech companies in T&T and the wider region. “Jamaica and Suriname have a fantastic ecosystem where there is a lot of collaboration among young entrepreneurs, developers, coders but this is not apparent in T&T.”
He says it comes back down to the Total Addressable Market (TAM) where a product is developed and there isn’t a wide enough market. “When we build products and solutions, know that we build them on a global level, and we could market them globally. And we aren’t worried about our next-door neighbour stealing our secrets. We want to work with them a little closer, evolve our products and solutions and really create a stream of foreign direct investment into the region.”
Aldwyn Wayne, CEO, WiPay says acceptance and understanding from the different generations are the biggest barriers to the adoption of technologies being mainstreamed. “The acceptance coming from the legacy players is what we always have to overcome. Fortunately for us, the younger generation has grown up using technology, so these things are not foreign to them and it’s not going to be as risky for them to try and use.”
He says more collaboration is needed between the legacy players in the financial space and smaller tech entrepreneurs/companies. “The biggest challenge is to walk that line but at the same time work with the legacy players like central banks and other financial service providers to let them know that you are moving towards a technology solution in that financial space and it is not always going to be a risky thing if we take it in increments.”
The “Stories from Tech Start-Ups” is the second part of AMCHAM T&T’s “Coffee Shop Conversation” series which was envisaged and designed by AMCHAM T&T’s Digital Transformation Committee. We would like to thank our sponsors: Republic Bank, Atlantic LNG, PwC, Digicel and our Digital Media partner, Trend Media for their support to host this Webinar.
For further questions or comments please contact: Nirad Tewarie, CEO of AMCHAM T&T at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Accelerating the Digital Government
To push the digital transformation agenda forward within the private and public sectors, AMCHAM T&T recently launched its “Coffee Shop Conversation” series on the topic: Accelerating the Digital Government.
AMCHAM T&T has been advocating a transformation of Government to a digitally-enabled government for several years as this would result in greater efficiency, improved services, better accessibility of public services and more transparency and accountability within government.
Three of the main recommendation of the AMCHAM T&T have been the implementation of a Unique National Identification Number; accelerating the adoption of e-payment for Government services and acceptance of digital signatures. In this regard, AMCHAM T&T CEO Nirad Tewarie complimented the Government for implementing e-payment for some services such as payment of taxes at the BIR and the acceptance of the need for the Unique National Identification number. However, even with taxes, companies are unable to pay their quarterly taxes online despite the BIR being able to facilitate online payments for personal income tax.
“There are two types of people. Those who see a solution for every problem and those who see a problem for every solution. COVID 19 has shown us that we have to be the solution seekers. There is nothing but lack of will preventing the implementation of a Unique National Identifier, acceptance of e-signatures for government transactions, e-payments across ministries and government agencies, a fully computerised Customs entry system and open data," says AMCHAM T&T CEO, Nirad Tewarie.
“We have been talking about these things for too long while our ease of doing business has been falling. Sure, there a million reasons we can hide behind to say “why?” but let's be the people who say, "why not?" and then go make it happen!”
Vashti Maharaj, Director of Legal Services at the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs says recent amendments to various laws to digitize public services at the Court, Registrar General’s Department and Intellectual Property Office will give momentum to and create a crescendo effect across government.
“The amendments to recent laws to digitize certain government services will lay the foundation for other dynamic and innovative initiatives such as the use of a unique personal identification number across government to access services as well as the launch of the national e-money policy that will pave the way for the use of digital wallets and encourage the development of a burgeoning Fintech economy within Trinidad and Tobago,” she says.
Glynis Alexander-Tam, former Chair of the e-Business Roundtable and CEO of Info Link Services Limited says there needs to be a common-sense approach of accelerating the government’s ICT plan particularly with the impact of COVID-19. She argues the digitization approach must be collaborative and should not reinvent the wheel on what already exists within the private sector.
“There are large companies that have digitized a lot of their services across the board. Government should, in fact, be engaging private sector companies to see what has been done before and where information can be leveraged, and partnerships developed to push some of that digitization process into the market space. Because what we are talking about is not only work “SMART” but also working smarter.”
Kirk Henry, CEO of iGovTT also participated in the event and indicated that the current environment of a global pandemic emphasizes the need to move services online by preparing the supporting infrastructure in a manner that is sustainable and secure. “This involves around managing risk associated with implementation to ensure availability of the system, to ensure accuracy in terms of processing the data that is captured, the agility to quickly respond and rollout solutions and finally accessibility.”
“We want to ensure the systems and the services that we digitize, provide and present in an online fashion is handled in such a way that the right people have access to it and we are always mindful of the bad actors who are attempting to subvert the process.”
AMCHAM T&T believes the aim should be for the entire population to fully benefit from the digitalization of these services which would require digital inclusion policies to address digital literacy, access to ICT and enabling the digital workplace. Therefore, the gaps need to be closed in ICT availability, affordability, and adoption for a large cross-section in society, through public and private sector policies and initiatives.
The “Accelerating The Digital Government” is the first part of AMCHAM T&T’s “Coffee Shop Conversation” series which was envisaged and designed by AMCHAM T&T’s Digital Transformation Committee. We would like to thank our sponsors: Republic Bank, PwC, Digicel and our Digital Media partner, Trend Media for the support to host this Webinar.
AMCHAM T&T Extends Condolences on the Passing of
Mr. William "Bill" Aguiton
Date: September 11, 1938 - June 12, 2020
AMCHAM T&T is saddened by the news of the passing of one of our founding members, William “Bill” Aguiton.
An ever-present and active member of AMCHAM T&T, he was admired and respected as being both a loyal and devoted member of the AMCHAM family, having served with distinction on the Board from inception in 1993, until his retirement in 1999, from Hilton International.
He is fondly remembered for facilitating AMCHAM T&T with our first offices, situated at the Trinidad Hilton in Port of Spain. We are eternally grateful to have enjoyed his leadership, commitment, and support in helping to build our organisation into the preferred private-sector business organisation for the stimulation of free and fair trade and investment within and between the Americas and the Caribbean.
William Aguiton was recognised as AMCHAM T&T’s first Honorary Member, after a stellar 37-year career that saw him earn plaudits for his devotion to professionalism and contributions to the hotel industry, having been appointed the only Trinidad and Tobago national to hold the position of General Manager of the Trinidad Hilton Hotel, and the first to be named "Hotelier of the Year" by the Caribbean Hotel Association. He was also the recipient of the Humming Bird Medal (Gold), and served as President of the Hotel, Restaurants and Tourism Association and Chairman of the Hospitality and Tourism Institute of Trinidad and Tobago.
We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, and all those who like us, feel a deep sense of loss, on the passing of this exemplary gentleman.
May his soul rest in perfect peace.
AMCHAM T&T Responds to Mid-Year Budget Review 2020
The mid-year review did not contain any surprises. AMCHAM T&T once again places on the record our congratulations to the Government for its containment of COVID-19 in T&T. As a country, our handling of the crisis is indeed the envy of many.
Further, while we are of the firm view that the support to business has not been comprehensive enough, we acknowledge that the Government has managed to maintain social stability and cushion the impact of the pandemic on significant sections of the most vulnerable.
We are concerned, however, that the Government is misdiagnosing the current situation. The contraction this year is likely to be much larger than the 2.4% contraction predicted by the Minister of Finance. In that context growth of 5% in 2021 also seems optimistic. We say this considering that natural gas production over the first six months of 2020 is slightly lower than the comparable period in 2019 while gas prices are significantly lower. In addition, the closure and idling of several plants on the Pt. Lisas Industrial Estate and significantly depressed petrochemical prices combined with the significant losses since March are going to have an extremely significant negative impact on GDP.
In this context, we are extremely concerned about the continuing inability to take decisions about the natural gas value chain that will give long-term confidence to the sector at the various points on the value chain.
We also readily acknowledge that the Minister of Finance has a very difficult job, made worse by the impact of COVID-19, however, the lack of focus on digital transformation of government services, customs reform and passing references to the improvement of the ease of doing business suggest that, at this point, more specificity is required around the initiatives that will be implemented to return the country to growth.
And while the Minister spoke about how many people received support but operate outside of the tax net, he did identify how these people will be brought into the system. We have been urging the Government to use this opportunity to ensure that such people are registered with the BIR and NIB from this point onward and sincerely hope they will do so.
We therefore eagerly await the presentations of individual Ministers and the final Roadmap to Recovery Committee report.
As always, AMCHAM T&T remains committed to collaboration with the Government and other stakeholders as we represent our members’ views and work collectively in the interest of our country.
Patricia Ghany re-elected as AMCHAM T&T President
at 27th AGM
(Patricia Ghany, President of AMCHAM T&T)
The American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago (AMCHAM T&T) re-elected Patricia Ghany to another term as President of the Chamber at its first-ever virtual Annual General Meeting held today.
Speaking on the theme “Business in the New Normal” in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Ghany laid out the Chamber’s vision and plans both for society and the role for business. “Our success as a country cannot be measured simply by GDP growth. Neither can our businesses’ success be measured only by profit. From what I have seen in my more than two decades as part of AMCHAM T&T and in my own business, for the most part, the business community has always taken an interest and supported both fence-line communities and the national community,” she said.
“Now, we may need to do a little more and, quite frankly, communicate what we do a little better. This is beyond CSR. It’s about building resilient communities and contributing to the overall sustainability of the country and, hopefully, the region.”
Even in the new normal, Ghany says the old, fundamental rules still apply, especially the rule of law. “Fairness and access to justice are key to developing a conducive business environment but so too are they to building a resilient and cohesive society. In the old normal or the new normal, strong adherence to the rule of law is key.”
“As a country, we need to do a better job of fixing the systems that inhibit social mobility and perpetuate inequality. We cannot fool ourselves by talking about outliers who emerge successfully from structural inequity and try to hold them up as examples that can be easily replicated. As citizens, we should have a vested interest in making our society better. And as businesses, we should see that if the rule of law is assured for those who are often most invisible and on the “margins of society” it will be assured for business too, making the entire economy more efficient and attractive.”
Ghany said to fuel and reward the innovation shown by companies, government, non-profits, and individuals in response to COVID-19 challenges, it will require an acceleration of our country’s digital transformation. “The COVID-19 situation has ripped the band-aid off the need across the public and private sector to enable teleworking and remote learning across most households. To support this new normal, gaps need to be closed in ICT availability, affordability, and adoption for a large cross-section in society, through public and private sector policies and initiatives.”
“We congratulate the GOTT on accelerating the offerings of e-payments for statutory tax payments such as Corporation tax, Green Fund. We look forward to the implementation of a unique National Identification Number system which will allow for the provision of government services in a less disjointed manner and instant verification of information provided by the customer.”
Ghany also recommended that the GOTT recommit Trinidad and Tobago to the Open Government Partnership and provide more data available in a manipulatable format to allow the private sector to extract economic value from our data. She says this should be done with the appropriate privacy protections supported by data privacy and data transparency laws including the full proclamation of the Data Protection Act.
She also urged government to urgently address the deficiencies in the education system as it relates to the appropriate use of IT in the teaching-learning process, the teaching of tech-related skills specifically, and, at a base level, differentiated approaches to teaching to most effectively facilitate learning across the widest group of students.
Ghany said it is imperative that we address issues around the energy value chain since the energy sector will remain the mainstay of our economy. “The Government and private sector have to work more closely to further develop the export capacity of the energy services sector, in recognition that if our petroleum resources were ever to be depleted, we could still have a vibrant, foreign exchange-earning energy services sector.”
On climate change, she says building the new normal will require the integration of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) risks and opportunities to create a stronger business strategy moving forward. “If we do not take action to protect sensitive habitats and species; conserve water, forests and other natural resources; and lobby for more stringent environmental protection enforcement, our ecosystems will collapse.”
At the AGM, the Chamber elected its new board:
· President - Patricia Ghany, Finance Director - Esau Oilfield Supplies Co. Ltd
· Vice President - Gregory Hill, Managing Director - ANSA Merchant Bank Limited
· Vice President - Mitchell De Silva, Citi Country Officer T&T Hub - Citibank
· Secretary - Glenn Hamel-Smith, Partner, Head Banking and Finance - Hamel-Smith
· Treasurer - Dominic Rampersad, President - Phoenix Park Gas Processors Ltd.
· Bruce Mackenzie, Group Strategy Officer, - Massy Group Vice President
· Caroline Toni Sirju Ramnarine, VP, Corporate Operations - Atlantic LNG Company Limited
· Giselle Thompson, VP Corporate Operations - BP TT
· Simon Aqui, Business Development Executive, Caribbean Financial Services Sector - IBM Trinidad
· Greer Quan, Chief Executive Officer, Caribbean - Pan-American Life Insurance Group
· Katishe Serrette, VP-AML/ATF Compliance - Scotiabank Trinidad & Tobago Limited
· Karrian Hepburn, Chief Customer Relationship Officer - Trinidad & Tobago Unit Trust Corporation
· Nicholas Galt, Chairman - Trinidad Systems Limited (The TSL Group)
· Ravi Suryadevara, CEO - Trinidad Valve & Fitting Company
· Jason George, Country Sales Manager - Trinidad, Jamaica and Other Islands United Airlines Inc.
· Richard Look Kin, Group Chief Risk Officer - First Citizens Trinidad & Tobago
Ex-Officio position - H.E Joseph Mondello, Ambassador U.S Embassy Trinidad & Tobago
Ex-Officio position - Nirad Tewarie, CEO AMCHAM T&T
E-zone & the NGC Group of Companies are the Platinum Sponsors of the AGM while PALIG, Atlantic, bpTT & EOG Resources are Gold Sponsors. PWC is a Silver sponsor and Microsoft and Velsoft are Technology Partners.
For more information, interested persons can visit www.amchamtt.com.
62 Maraval Road,
Newtown, Port of Spain
T: (868) 622-0340, 622-4466,
F: (868) 628-9428
Email AMCHAM T&T
P.O. Bag 150, Newtown,
Port of Spain
Trinidad and Tobago.
HSE Excellence Awards
National Youth Productivity Forum
Copyright © AMCHAM T&T