AMCHAM T&T Builds MSME Business Continuity Planning Capacity
The American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago (AMCHAM T&T), through the Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Resilience Societies (ARISE) initiative, is engaging the private sector to create more risk-resilient enterprises to assist businesses to resist, cope and recover quickly during times of sudden shocks, emergencies and disasters. AMCHAM T&T, in partnership with the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) and the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) has launched a Business Continuity Planning (BCP) workshop to support micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) that do not have dedicated departments to address BCP measures within their organizations.
The BCP workshop provides a framework for MSMEs to start identifying and addressing the exposure to risks of their businesses, and to prioritize areas for preventive action. It also seeks to raise awareness of inherent business risks and to be a catalyst for developing risk informed strategies in MSMEs. The 3-Day workshop is scheduled for February 16th, 18th and 23rd and begins with 50 participants in the first edition.At the launch of the workshop, Patricia Ghany, President of AMCHAM T&T highlighted the Caribbean region’s vulnerability and the importance of BCP in business operations. “This vulnerability is multi-dimensional - it includes economic, social and environmental factors. The frequency of disasters in this region means that recovery can take years. We know that our region will almost always be susceptible to sudden and quick changes affecting both our lives and business. If it’s not COVID-19, it’s going to be the impact of climate change. The point is, if we are going to survive, we must make business continuity planning part of our long-term company’s strategic vision.”
In this context, AMCHAM T&T believes the support to the private sector (particularly MSMEs) in areas of understanding of risk, business continuity and disaster risk reduction is considered vital to ensuring a quick and resilient economic and social recovery after sudden adverse events.
Despite the region’s exposure to multiple hazards, AMCHAM T&T recognizes that the private sector has the capacity to serve as a catalyst for bringing disaster risk information to other social sectors, supporting risk-informed governance, and helping the government to fulfil its 2030 Agenda obligations, most notably the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction; and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Against this backdrop, the business continuity planning (BCP) workshop will support the ARISE initiative, which looks at engaging the private sector on these important matters.
“The private sector plays a critical role in national development and is an essential partner with the public sector in the national response and recovery plans during times of national disasters and other sudden shocks and emergencies,” Ghany said. “Therefore, AMCHAM T&T believes it is necessary for MSMEs to become more risk-resilient so that they can recover quickly and contribute more towards ensuring social change, economic diversity, reducing poverty and achieving greater gender inclusion.”
Meanwhile, Major General (Retired) Rodney Smart, CEO of the ODPM said the Business Continuity Management (BCM) strategy for the public service in T&T is aligned with the Comprehensive Disaster Management Policy Framework for Trinidad and Tobago and the National Response Framework, the latter which applies a 3-level response system. The policy acknowledges that a major disruption can potentially lead to a country-wide disaster, the response to which may have to be coordinated by the ODPM. “The purpose of the strategy is to ensure timely and effective business continuity, disaster preparedness, response and total business recovery, should a major interruption occur in Trinidad and Tobago,” Smart said.
He says the BCM Policy and other business continuity processes are directly linked to the ODPM’s strategy for the implementation of Comprehensive Disaster Management which is the Regional Framework espoused by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and is reflected through 4 pillars:
· Mitigation – Risk Identification, Assessment and Reduction
· Preparedness – Risk Control, Early Warning Systems
· Response – Emergency Response Plans, Business Continuity Plans
· Rehabilitation/Recovery – Recovery Plans and “Build Back Better”.
The ODPM is currently working in collaboration with other national, regional and international agencies such as the CDEMA, the UNDP and UNDRR, the Red Cross, Ministries and local bodies such as AMCHAM T&T on the development of its National Plan for Disaster Risk Reduction, known as Country Work Programmes.
Meanwhile, Nahuel Arenas, deputy chief of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction’s Regional Office for the Americas and the Caribbean says, “The Caribbean is the most vulnerable region to hydrometeorological events in the world. Yet, these risks are systemic and have cascading effects affecting the private sector, especially SMEs.”
He says the Sendai Framework, which is the global footprint on DRR provides clear recommendations on how to address disaster risks. “On its basis, the recommendations aim at sharing value with the business sector. Thus, the Sendai Framework recommends that the private sector must move from a narrow vision of preparedness and response, to integrate prevention and risk reduction into business practices. This is possible by better understanding risks, better quantifying losses and damages and by improving cost benefits analysis.”
Arenas added that the private sector needs to invest in disaster resilience, integrate risk-information in decision making and work together with the public sector to strengthen disaster risk reduction and resilience policies at national and local levels. “Investing in resilience means directly investing in your own business. It is a business opportunity.”
The Business Continuity Planning Workshop was coordinated by AMCHAM T&T’s ARISE committee. AMCHAM T&T would like to thank our Sponsor Guardian Life for their support to host this Workshop and our two main partners: The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) and the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) for supporting this important initiative. The BCP workshop is another example of AMCHAM T&T’s strong commitment to our members and the wider business community as we continue to work on their behalf through these challenging times.
AMCHAM T&T: Enhance Trade Facilitation to
Improve The Ease Of Doing Business
The American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago (AMCHAM T&T) hosted a Webinar on “The Ease of Doing Business – Trade Modernization” to facilitate greater dialogue between Customs and the business community to improve the trade facilitation process in T&T.
AMCHAM T&T is empathetic to the challenges Customs is currently facing having to balance revenue collection and maintain border security within the current economic climate while doing both in the context of trade facilitation. However, the approach that is being met with right now from Customs does not place customer service and trade facilitation at the level of priority that we would like to see.
Currently, the World Bank’s 2020 Ease of Doing Business ranks T&T at 105 out of 190 countries. AMCHAM T&T considers this ranking a worrisome position for T&T that needs urgent attention if we want to create a business-friendly environment to attract investors, as well as to create the opportunities for businesses to become more efficient.
“We cannot talk about attracting investment if we do not have the conditions to attract investment. If the fundamentals are not there to support investment, the investment will be hard to come by,” says Nirad Tewarie, AMCHAM T&T CEO. “It will be state-driven, largely drive us further into debt and that is not the kind of economic development that is sustainable and that will create the kind of future and society that we want. So, we have to improve where we sit on the Ease of Doing Business ranking, and that means the trade facilitation component of our economy needs radical improvement.”
Fernando Peña, Director of Customs and Regulatory Affairs at DHL says there is a roadmap that T&T should consider that would enhance the trade facilitation process. He recommends 1) publishing regulations that would provide legal certainty and allow traders to provide input on what is feasible operationally while providing guidance to customs officials. He says we also need to consider 2) a de minimis exemption to save on customs’ inspection and processing resources; 3) involve the private sector more in the development of procedures and regulations; and 4) simplify border procedures with fewer formalities such as removing data elements from customs declarations and expanding the values under which traders need to use a broker for customs transactions. “These measures would really expedite trading and free up inspectional resources and post-entry audits,” Peña says.
He says DHL has the data when shipments leave their points of origins before arriving at their destinations which can be submitted to Customs authorities for 5) pre-arrival processing. This can free up a lot of resources once the shipment arrives and allows for a 6) separate release from clearance for low-risk shipments to be released immediately on arrival. The clearance payment process can be facilitated by electronic transmission of customs transactions and a built-in risk management system that detects trends through time that can inform authorities of risky shipments. He also advocated for the 7) coordination of border agencies to establish a single window where traders submit information into one electronic data interface, and finally to 8) adopt measures for trusted traders where they are asked to provide information concerning their supply chains and other operations so the authorities can allow expedited treatment to such traders at the border, once trust is established.
Meanwhile, Earl Anthony Stewart Jnr - Director for Planning and Research at the Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) said numerous reform initiatives have helped improve the trade facilitation process and enhanced the ease of doing business in Jamaica. Stewart said this is a testament to the leadership from the Prime Minister Andrew Holness and the strategic plan laid out by the Jamaican government to get Jamaica into the top ten countries with respect to the Ease of Doing Business.
In the past year, Jamaica has adopted a multi-sectoral approach using a national development plan that covers every single sector with strategic initiatives and outcomes that guide what all ministries and departments are doing. “It is the ambitious vision of wanting to see improvement and wanting to get in that top 10 that led to several strategic moves that now see Jamaica ranking at 71 and the number one ranking in the Caribbean,” says Stewart Jr.
“We have established the National Competitiveness Council with the mandate to spearhead and manage business reform in Jamaica. The council is mandated quarterly to submit progress reports on issues that need to be addressed to improve the Ease of Doing Business in Jamaica. The Trade Facilitation Taskforce has also been set up which monitors the inspection for a single entity that aims to create efficiency in doing business and to speed up trade. The goal is to make Jamaica the place where people want to live and raise families,” says Stewart Jr.
He says Jamaica customs has been partnering with other entities to drive reform to enable both the improvement and realization of trade facilitation. Jamaica customs is achieving this through the recently implemented ASYCUDA system which has improved trade facilitation within Jamaica especially with respect to performance measurements and the ability to eliminate the number of manual processes. Partnerships with the port authority and the government have resulted in the Port Community System that facilitates the easy sharing of information between the relevant agencies. Also, Jamaica Customs is the implementing entity for the Jamaica Single Window for Trade (JSWIFT) which serves as an electronic platform that allows traders to submit transactional information through a single access point.
Also, Dr Krista Lucenti who is a Senior Specialist in the Trade and Investment Division of the IDB based in Trinidad and Tobago says trade facilitation can be improved by greater collaboration and dialogue between the private and public sector. “It really does depend on leadership within the governments, not just in customs but also within the private sector. Customs has an interest for facilitating the trade to compliant traders and reducing the risk related to noncompliance. And compliant actors in the private sector also have an interest in eliminating fraudulent activities because that just leads to more control for everyone which is an increased cost for compliant traders. When the private sector and customs see that their interests aligned then there is space for programs like the Authorize Economic Operator or Trusted Trader Programme which then provides the opportunity for dialogues and the alignment of interests.”
Meanwhile, Ms. Patricia Aveitia who is the CBP embedded Advisor in Trinidad & Tobago’s Customs and Excise Division of the Ministry of Finance says CBP is currently assisting T&T with best practice approaches around technological advancements. She outlines the use of non-intrusive technology, a largescale x-ray system to expedite more cargo, and a canine programme to increase border enforcement as some of the measures currently being looked at by CBP and the Customs Division.
“The Ease of Doing Business – Trade Modernization” Webinar was coordinated by AMCHAM T&T’s Express Logistics Committee. AMCHAM T&T would like to thank our Platinum Sponsor Ezone Logistics 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 email@example.com
Urgent Action Required on Port Delays
AMCHAM T&T would like to applaud the Customs and Excise Division for finally beginning the process of full implementation of the electronic clearance application, ASYCUDA 4.2.2. If managed effectively and implemented fully, this transition can result in greater revenue collection, better detection of contraband and improved efficiency of the clearance system at the ports.
Unfortunately, continued changes without adequate engagement with the industry is creating a situation where the sputtering economy is being further choked. In addition to having to deal with a lack of Standard Operating Procedures, resulting in frequent, seemingly arbitrary changes to clearance processes and operations over the past several years, no items could have been cleared at the ports from December 31st to 4th January to facilitate the migration to ASYCUDA.
Regrettably, the new system has been down more than it has been functional since going live on Monday. We understand that a major software upgrade sometimes results in “teething problems”. However, these new stresses compound a situation in which clearance times and costs in T&T continue to escalate.
The business community has been in frequent communication with Customs and the line Ministry – Ministry of Finance. For more than a year our Express Logistics Committee has been meeting with the Customs’ Leadership in an attempt to streamline and standardize Customs’ procedures to provide clarity and stability in the market. We have had several meetings with the Honourable Minister of Finance, Colm Imbert on these matters as well.
These have resulted in some small but meaningful gains. However, our small gains will be eroded if we do not seek to quickly rectify the ongoing problems at the ports. We are once again experiencing not only delays, but also several hours of overtime to clear seemingly simple shipments. We continue to be alarmed and concerned that multiple companies are charged overtime for the same time period. It is obscene that in the absence of a proper, centralized, risk-based management system this creates the conditions for which the need for overtime is determined by the officers who will benefit from this overtime.
These delays and the addition of bureaucracy not only add to the overall cost of operations to the Express Courier and Freight Forwarder Industries, but also result in additional costs to small and medium enterprises, in particular, at a time when they can ill-afford increased costs. Customs has justified these delays with increases in tax revenue collection, however, we propose that an increase in tax revenue should not be at the detriment of the industry. We believe an efficient Customs Division will not only lead to greater tax revenues, but it will redound to greater efficiencies for the entire economy - the more shipments are cleared the more revenue (duties and VAT) can be collected by Government, and the faster businesses can get the products to continue to operate.
Increased taxation of a smaller number of businesses will not grow the economy. In fact, such continued action will further shrink the economy.
Going forward, we look forward to the production of Standard Operating Procedures to be publicly available and adhered to at all ports. A centralized, integrated and robust risk management system must also be put into place if the Government intends to protect the borders at the official ports of entry and simultaneously improve the ease of doing business. We also believe that meaningful, open dialogue should continue with adequate consultation, adjustment and testing before new measures are implemented.
In the meantime, urgent leadership from the Government and Customs is required to reduce backlogs and to ensure that trade can take place in an efficient manner.
For further questions or comments please contact: Nirad Tewarie, CEO AMCHAM T&T at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AMCHAM T&T Launches Anti-Gender Based Violence Initiative For Private Sector
AMCHAM T&T, in collaboration with The UWI Institute of Gender and Development Studies and the Coalition Against Domestic Violence, is launching an Anti-Gender Based Violence Initiative for private sector entities. The purpose of this Initiative is to prevent all forms of gender-based violence and abuse in the workplace and to help companies develop a workplace policy that supports employees who are victims of gender-based violence.
Nirad Tewarie, CEO of AMCHAM T&T says this initiative reaffirms AMCHAM T&T’s strong commitment to promoting gender equality in the workplace and society. “AMCHAM T&T has been a strong advocate for the promotion of women’s leadership in business and fighting for equality to build a progressive, fully democratic society. Removing obstacles that limit the potential of women to advance in their careers should be a priority for all companies if they intend to reduce gender inequality in their organisations.”
“The training is intended to assist companies to provide resources that will offer support for victims of gender-based violence and identify means to possibly hold more perpetrators accountable. Using the data we get from this Initiative, we will also work with the participating companies, the IGDS and CADV to explore and hopefully develop initiatives to more effectively protect victims of intimate partner violence. AMCHAM T&T believes that implementing workplace policies on gender-based violence will ultimately have a positive impact on the organisation whereby employees are made to feel safe, protected and empowered. Ultimately, this is the type of workplace culture that drives higher rates of productivity, profitability, and performance.”
“Even as we launch this initiative, we are painfully aware that it is the perpetrators who need to be stopped rather than the victims needing to be soothed. That is why we are extremely pleased to be working with two organisations who are on the front lines combatting this issue. Together we hope to be able to do our small part to build the required system to identify and ultimately reduce the prevalence of intimate partner violence (commonly referred to as domestic violence),” Tewarie said.
Speaking to the importance of the Initiative, Dr Gabrielle Hosein, head of the Institute for Gender and Development Studies (IDGS) said: "The data show that 1 in 3 women working in the private sector have experienced physical or sexual partner violence at some point in their lifetime. These women experience higher levels of mental distress, lack of confidence, physical pain and inability to concentrate at work, affecting their ability to earn, lead and succeed. The data also show that the majority do not seek services. However, these women go to work every day and therefore there is a role for the private sector in helping them feel safe and heal, end feelings of shame, break silences, and know that their workplaces are leading in establishing zero tolerance of violence against women, including by identifying and responding to perpetrators with clear workplace guidelines. In showing such leadership, AMCHAM T&T is continuing to collaborate with the women's movement and civil society to transform the realities of violence in women's lives. We aim to keep expanding our partnership, learning from each other, and making whatever difference we can, together.”
The Anti-Gender Based Violence Initiative is designed to address Gender-Based Violence through the execution of a three-phase programme.
Phase one: Survey - How is Gender-Based Violence affecting your employees?
Phase two: Workshop - Understanding Gender-Based Violence and how your organisation can develop a culture of zero-tolerance of Gender-Based Violence. This workshop is tailored to your organisation’s specific needs.
Phase three: Policy Development - Develop your Workplace Anti-Gender Based Violence Policy.
Companies participating in this initiative will benefit from gender-sensitive training that will discourage all forms of Gender-Based Violence and abuse, address the issues of gender, vulnerability, and marginalization, recognize signs of abuse and offer assistance, and address claims of sexual harassment in the workplace.
AMCHAM T&T would like to congratulate Phoenix Park Gas Processors Limited (PPGPL) which is the first company to participate in this initiative and for actively seeking to address gender-based violence in the workplace.
The Anti-Gender Based Violence Initiative is open to all companies and organisations in Trinidad and Tobago. Interested participants seeking to have their Anti-Gender Based Violence Programme executed at their organisations should contact AMCHAM T&T at 295-4869.
AMCHAM T&T has been a leader on issues of gender parity. Earlier this year we achieved gender parity on our Board of Directors. Our Annual Women’s Leadership event is almost a decade old and we have provided mentorship opportunities for more than 100 professional women over the past three years in collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
For further questions or comments please contact: Nirad Tewarie, CEO AMCHAM T&T at email@example.com.
AMCHAM T&T HONOURS HSE EXCELLENCE at its 10th ANNUAL NATIONAL EXCELLENCE IN HSE AWARDS
The American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago (AMCHAM T&T) hosted a virtual ceremony to commemorate the 10th Annual National Excellence in HSE Awards to honour companies in T&T who have demonstrated HSE excellence and leadership in their operations.
Nirad Tewarie, AMCHAM T&T CEO, said the awards, which were endorsed by the Ministry of Labour in 2011 and recognised as a National Award, represented a great partnership between Government and AMCHAM T&T towards promoting HSE standards in T&T. “It is our considered view that this partnership support speaks not only to the laudable nature of the program but is a powerful statement by Government of its recognition of the need to improve national HSE standards in order to ensure that HSE excellence becomes a way of life for all our citizens.”
This year, the National HSE Awards which was held on Day Three of AMCHAM T&T’s 24th Annual HSSE Conference & Exhibition held greater significance due to the ongoing pandemic which has pushed the issue of health and safety as a major concern, not just for companies but also for citizens and countries alike. Over the past seven months, many businesses have been forced to close or leapfrog their operations to digital platforms while ensuring stricter health and safety measures to protect their employees and to maintain business continuity during this pandemic.
In this context, AMCHAM T&T recognizes the value and importance of effective HSSE leadership by companies. Tewarie said when organisations make investments in HSE policies and processes it creates a safety culture than extends beyond the company. “Organisations which emphasise high levels of HSE performance in their operations demand higher standards of HSE performance from their contractors, service providers and support systems, thereby ensuring the broadening and deepening of best practices, including caring for and strengthening the resilience of fence line communities.”
“If there is anything we learnt during the course of the Conference, is that true HSE success will only come when HSE is a value and safety leadership is authentic. Designing policies without leadership and the development of culture will not give you stellar safety results. In that regard, we are elated to see so many companies improving their safety cultures and therefore getting better results, but also seeing companies improve their safety culture from year to year.”
With companies placing a high priority on health and safety measures because of the ongoing pandemic, AMCHAM T&T’s National HSE Awards saw a record number of companies participating in the awards this year. Therefore the judges made the decision to expand the Award scheme to include the new category: Business Continuity: Surviving the Pandemic Award - as a means to highlight the safety measures companies would have implemented to protect their employees and customers.
WINNERS OF AMCHAM T&T’s National HSE Awards 2020 are:
Outstanding OSH/Environment Project 2020
Awards Criteria: The company engaged on a significant project, or “first steps”, on the journey towards achieving HSE excellence. The company demonstrated that its Project entailed the implementation of several of the key elements of formal HSE management systems, i.e. elements of Planning, Risk Management, Implementation or execution, Monitoring and Measurement, Handling Nonconformities, and/or Continual Improvement, OR that the Project addressed systems for building a positive HSE organizational culture, AND that the Project contributed to overall positive Occupational Safety and Health, and/or Environmental Results.
Most Improved HSE Performance
Awards Criteria: This company has embarked on the journey of implementing company-wide HSE Management Systems and has successfully implemented the system as a whole, or major elements of it, AND has achieved a trend of significant improvement in their HSE performance in year 2019, and over the 2 previous years as a minimum. The Award looks for evidence that a strong foundation has been set for building excellence in the near future
BCP Special Award – Business Continuity and Surviving the Pandemic 2020 (Honourable mention)
Awards Criteria: Special Award, while not the winner of this category, the company qualified for the receipt of the BCP Special Award-Business Continuity and Surviving the Pandemic 2020 Award. The company is recognised for the excellent job that it has done in managing its business response to the interruptions caused by COVID-19 to ensure operational resiliency. The company has implemented a strong Risk Management Plan, Business Impact Analysis, Incident Response Plan and Recovery Plan.
Excellence in HSE Award 2020
Awards Criteria: The Company has earned the premier award, the category of ‘Excellent HSE Performance’. This company has established a strong HSE Management Systems AND has achieved excellent occupational health and safety, and Environmental Results. The awardee will serve as a paragon of HSE Excellence in practice and will go on to share their Success Stories with companies within the AMCHAM T&T Membership and beyond, so that we all can firstly believe that impeccable occupational safety and health, and environmental performance records can be achieved and maintained over the years, and we can learn best practices and how to overcome the practical challenges.
AMCHAM T&T would like to congratulate all the WINNERS of the National HSE Awards 2020 and thank them for the leadership they have shown towards achieving HSE excellence in their safety measures and overall business operations. AMCHAM T&T would also like to thank BHP - (Title Sponsor) for their unwavering support since the inception of these awards. AMCHAM T&T extends our sincere gratitude to the HSE Awards Committee and the judges for their hard work by conducting virtual walkthroughs and interviews with employees and management of all companies that participated this year in the National HSE Awards 2020.
Through these awards and the Annual HSSE Conference and Exhibition, AMCHAM T&T continues to uphold and promote HSSE excellence as a key performance indicator towards business success and ensuring the safety and protection of all employees and citizens of our nation.
AMCHAM T&T President Calls for Clear Guidelines for Different Stages of Lockdown
AMCHAM T&T President Patricia Ghany, is calling for clear triggers to be established to determine different levels of response to control the spread of COVID-19. Speaking at the Launch of AMCHAM T&T’s 24th Annual Health, Safety, Security and Environment (HSSE) Conference & Exhibition, she said that “for businesses to be able to bounce back or at least start planning for a recovery, we require predictability. It is our view that restrictions to curtail business and individual activity should be linked to specific triggers. This should be clearly communicated in advance and of course, based on science.”
With the projected contraction of the economy estimated at least negative 6.8 percent for 2020, according to the figures presented in the National Budget, AMCHAM T&T is concerned that further or continued restrictions placed on business will have an even bigger impact on the nation’s economy that will hinder long term growth and investment.
The AMCHAM T&T President outlined a path forward for the re-opening of the economy given that the situation the nation experienced in March is not completely applicable to the current context. “What we did in March when we knew little to nothing about the virus, is not completely applicable now. For example, if we, hypothetically, record five straight days of new cases of more than 100, severe lockdowns may be necessary, but if we are at fewer that say 40 a day for five days, a significant re-opening of the economy may be possible and of course, if we drop to fewer than 20 new cases a day, we can join the CARICOM bubble and fully re-open the economy.”
While the re-opening of the borders remains a public health and safety concern, Ghany says there should be a clear and reasonable criterion for the re-opening of borders.
In the meantime, Ghany says measures like mask wearing, social distancing and no mass gatherings will likely have to remain in effect until a vaccine is developed and administered to the majority of the population. “Individuals will have to take much of the responsibility for ensuring that cases don’t spread through their actions, but continued uncertainty and apparent arbitrary measures are counter-productive.”
Opining on the way forward, the AMCHAM T&T President believes there is a need for deeper engagement and clarity on national development objectives. “Some clear milestones and both short-and long-term objectives in the context of an overall plan are required which would require meaningful engagement with stakeholders.”
Ghany said stakeholders will sometimes have suggestions that are not apparently supportive of the measures being implemented but what is needed now is collaboration, dialogue and meaningful engagement. “It’s a point about culture and collaboration. For our country to be resilient; to be able to build back stronger, we need a more inclusive, more collaborative culture. We face many challenges, and many sacrifices will have to be made. The burden will have to be shared, for sure.”
Ghany says the business community is doing its part. “Companies large and small are donating devices for online school; assisting with food care packages and supporting employees in this difficult time. For true resilience, we need a strong and enabled private sector.”
AMCHAM T&T remains committed to working with the government on behalf of the business community on this issue so that we can ensure our economy and our nation recovers from this pandemic.
AMCHAM T&T President Patricia Ghany Elected to Association of American Chambers of Commerce of Latin America and the Caribbean (AACCLA) Board of Directors
The American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago (AMCHAM T&T) is pleased to announce the election of Patricia Ghany to the Board of Directors of the Association of American Chambers of Commerce of Latin America and the Caribbean (AACCLA).
Ghany who is currently serving in her third term as President of AMCHAM T&T is also the fourth AMCHAM T&T executive to be elected to AACCLA’s Board. Nicholas Galt, Chairman of Trinidad Systems Limited, held the post of Chairman of the AACCLA board in 2013, and currently serves as Chairman Emeritus, while former AMCHAM T&T President, Ravi Suryadevara served on the Board until October 6th, 2020. Nirad Tewarie, AMCHAM T&T CEO has been serving on the AACCLA Board since 2018 as one of only two AmCham CEOs. He was also re-elected for a third, one-year term at the AACCLA 2020 General Assembly.
Ghany who is also the Chief Financial Officer of Esau Oilfield Supplies Company Limited, highlighted the benefits to T&T on her appointment. “I am very humbled to have been elected to serve on the AACCLA Board. My different roles at AMCHAM T&T have allowed me to grow both professionally and personally and I will bring the same passion, commitment and enthusiasm in my new role on the board of AACCLA.”
“Historically AMCHAM T&T has had a very supportive and productive relationship with AACCLA which I do hope to build on while serving on the board. This appointment will position T&T to have a much stronger voice outlining the opportunities for trade and investment in T&T with our partners in the western hemisphere and particularly with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is the largest business federation in the world. In this new role, I want to continue the work we started at AMCHAM T&T which has been to create an attractive business environment in T&T that will widen the investment opportunities, increase our local talent pool and improve the quality of lives for all citizens.
Nirad Tewarie, CEO of AMCHAM T&T who was also re-elected to the AACCLA board said Patricia’s appointment beckons well for AMCHAM T&T and the AACCLA board. “Patricia’s appointment is another glowing example of AMCHAM T&T’s reach and influence across the hemisphere to continue the advocacy for increase investment and trade between the Caribbean and the Americas.
“Her stewardship as President of AMCHAM T&T has been nothing short of transformative, resilient and collaborative in the way we reach out to members, the advocacy positions we take, and how we continue to build an organization that remains viable and engaging to members. She will definitely be a huge asset to AACCLA and to our nation on this prestigious board.”
The Association of American Chambers of Commerce of Latin America and the Caribbean (AACCLA) is an independent, non-profit, business organizations based in 28 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. The organization’s primary objective is to promote trade and investment between their countries and The United States. The 24 AmChams in the region represent over 20,000 U.S. and local companies and executives representing over 80% of U.S. investment in the region.
AMCHAM T&T's Response to 2020-2021 National Budget Presentation
AMCHAM T&T listened with interest to the national budget statement presented by the Honorable Minister of Finance. Overall, we are optimistic that the budget statement outlines some initiatives that could set the platform for future growth.
We applaud the government’s efforts towards their commitment to digital transformation of the economy. The specific commitment to an e-payment gateway for government services, national e-identity and unique national identification number and the use of virtual courts can all be transformative for both individuals and businesses in all sectors. We trust that the Minister of Public Administration and Digital Transformation will give specific timelines for implementation, inclusive of appropriate and meaningful consultation with stakeholders.
Further the commitment to tackle specific impediments to the ease of doing business such as the time taken to get permits, modernization of the Port of Port of Spain and liberalization of the fuel market, which we trust will be done in an orderly and transparent manner, are all welcome.
The Minister of Finance also highlighted several pieces of critical legislation that are high on the Government’s legislative agenda. AMCHAM T&T has long called for more bi-partisanship around the passage of legislation and we are keen to see both parties in the Parliament work together to pass legislation enabling more efficient tax collection, the full operationalization of the public procurement legislation and overall improvement in the ease of doing business.
Some might argue that the measures do not do enough to raise revenue in this fiscal period. That may be so, but if the measures outlined are implemented, there is likely to be a boost of confidence that will stimulate private sector investment in the years to come. Such investments will generate jobs and create additional revenue for the country.
While we are optimistic about what we heard in the budget presentation, AMCHAM T&T is concerned about the Minister’s revenue projections given that we only managed to raise $32.5B in fiscal 2020 and we are still being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Admittedly, without access to all of the information that the Minister used to calculate his revenue projection, we are somewhat worried that this target is overly ambitious and may force the government to undertake further borrowing or mid-year cuts that could undermine the attempts at modernisation.
For further questions or comments please contact: Nirad Tewarie, CEO AMCHAM T&T at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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