AMCHAM T&T Responds To The 2021 - 2021 National Budget Presentation
AMCHAM T&T sees the 2022 budget statement as an attempt to re-inject confidence in the economy. We acknowledge the range of issues discussed in the budget and the links between our continued need to rely on the energy sector as we transition to other areas, such as tech. We see the modernisation of the country’s infrastructure as an imperative to achieve the transition as articulated by the Minister and we look forward to the execution of these plans.
The tax incentives announced are clearly designed to encourage business activity. These incentives must be complimented by other efforts to improve the ease of doing business. Together this will create more jobs and revenue for the country.
In the current environment, we appreciate that the Government has to play a significant role in stimulating the economy and, as such, that this would be another year of deficit financing. While the Minister spoke of a return to a primary fiscal surplus in 2024, that can only be achieved through a commitment to co-ordinated execution to bring these measures into effect.
We are comfortable with the assumptions the Minister made with regard to the prices of oil and gas used in the budget.
AMCHAM T&T applauds the government for strengthening its commitment on the digital transformation of the economy especially since this can accelerate the economic recovery both with tech being an enabler and an industry in itself.
We note the re-committment to several initiatives announced in previous budgets such as the National Statistical Institute, the introduction of a National Digital Identity and electronic funds transfer implementation. AMCHAM T&T welcomes this and looks forward to the creation of the enabling legislative framework to facilitate the digital economy.
We note the intention to make the upstream sector more attractive and trust that these changes will be made ahead of the 2022 bid-round. We also look forward to the expansion of the voluntary compliance program under the Customs and Excise division so that shipments can be fast-tracked from compliant logistics companies.
The announcement of trade facilitation offices in overseas markets such as Guyana, Jamaica and England are welcome. However, we continue to strongly advocate for the establishment of a High Commission in Guyana.
We also welcome the incentives for companies to list on the SME exchange. This hopefully will lead to increased opportunities for the growth of SMEs and deepen the capital markets.
What seemed to be the beginning of the rationalisation of the state enterprise sector was also a welcome development. So too is the announcement of the re-start of the National Apprenticeship Programme.
We do remain concerned, however, that not many details were forthcoming on the reduction of expenditure over the medium term to ensure more value for money. We look forward to the details of the restructuring of WASA and the HDC in this regard.
For further questions or comments please contact: Nirad Tewarie, CEO AMCHAM T&T at email@example.com.
JOINT CHAMBERS MEDIA RELEASE RE STAKEHOLDER MEETING WITH MINISTRY OF PLANNING
AMCHAM T&T, the Energy Chamber of Trinidad and Tobago, the Trinidad & Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the Trinidad & Tobago Coalition of Service Industries, and the Trinidad & Tobago Manufacturers Association (the Joint Chambers) have noted the reports of a sharp increase in the number of people being vaccinated in response to the Prime Minister’s announcement of the introduction of safe zones. This is extremely encouraging news.
In the stakeholder meeting chaired by the Minister of Planning yesterday, the Joint Chambers again expressed our strong support for the safe zone concept and committed to working closely with the Government and other stakeholders to successfully implement this plan. As acknowledged by all parties, there are still details of the implementation of the safe zone plans, and the associated employment issues, that need to be fully resolved. The Joint Chambers committed to working with all stakeholders to make this a reality.
The Joint Chambers also expressed support, in principle, for the draft workplace covid vaccination policies that had been developed by the Industrial Relations Advisory Committee, which were presented at the meeting by the Ministry of Labour. The Joint Chambers joins with the Trade Union Federations in calling for the "draft policy [to be] finalized, circulated, and tabled for implementation” as a matter of urgency.
The draft workplace vaccination policy includes proposals for the introduction of additional regulations under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Employers have a duty of care to their employees, customers, and other visitors under the OSH Act. It is therefore imperative that employers are given clear guidance about any specific vaccination requirements that they could reasonably be expected to implement, in response to the specific level of risk that exists in their facilities.
The Joint Chambers reiterates their strong and continued support for vaccinations as the only currently available method to get us out of the covid pandemic without the continued lockdowns, that have been so damaging to the economy, society and mental health.
Joint Chambers Support the Introduction of Safe Zones
AMCHAM T&T, the Energy Chamber of Trinidad and Tobago, the Trinidad & Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce and Trinidad & Tobago Manufacturers’ Association (the Joint Chambers) warmly welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement of the introduction of “safe zones” to allow the re- opening of restaurants, bars, cinemas, gyms, casinos and other similar establishments. The announced measures will help protect the health of both customers and employees, as the country continues to roll- out the national COVID-19 vaccination programme. Further, such a measure would allow citizens to recover after a period of not earning regular incomes over the last few months.
Similar measures have been introduced in many countries regionally and across the world, as we collectively learn to live in a COVID-19 environment. Many countries in Europe and Asia have already implemented similar national measures to protect public health, while in the USA and Canada similar policies have been introduced at city, state and/or provincial levels. Within the Caribbean community, Guyana and Belize have already implemented regulations requiring all visitors to public buildings be vaccinated, while Antigua and Barbuda has mandated vaccinations for all public servants, public transport drivers and many other people interacting with the public.
Members of the Joint Chambers and the wider private-sector have worked in close partnership with the Government to roll-out the mass vaccination programme over the past few months and to educate the public on the importance of vaccination as a high priority. The majority of our employees and many other citizens have been vaccinated in establishments run by the private-sector, and businesses are continuing to assist the Ministry of Health in the roll-out of the current community-based vaccination programmes. There has been an unprecedented programme of public-private partnership in the efforts to protect lives through vaccinations.
The Joint Chambers commit to continuing this partnership with government in this new phase of the battle against COVID-19, as we implement the “safe zones” policies. The Joint Chambers know that we all need to continue to work together to move our Republic forward and toward the continued easing of restrictions. In this regard, we urge all citizens -vaccinated and unvaccinated- to continue to practice responsible behaviour by wearing masks, socially distancing and sanitizing frequently.
We also take this opportunity to appeal to citizens to follow the science and get vaccinated. T&T is in the fortunate position of having vaccine choice at a time when many countries around the world have no access to vaccines. With the Delta variant present in the population, vaccination is the safest way to protect against severe illness and the need for hospitalization.
We are all in this together and once again reaffirm our commitment to doing our part to combat the effects of this deadly disease.
AMCHAM T&T SUBMITS 2021-2022 BUDGET RECOMMENDATIONS TO MINISTRY OF FINANCE
The American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago (AMCHAM T&T) has submitted its recommendations for the upcoming 2021-2022 National Budget to the Ministry of Finance. AMCHAM T&T which represents nearly 300 companies across different sectors of the economy has outlined key areas for consideration for recovery from the pandemic in the short term and promote growth and development in the long term.
AMCHAM T&T’s budget recommendations recognize the need for the Government to increase revenue while simultaneously supporting individuals and businesses through the crisis. We also highlighted the importance of undertaking structural reforms that would lead to an improvement in the ease of doing business. It is important that our country’s economic recovery plan has clear objectives related to the improvement of quality of life and social harmony as prerequisites to a more attractive business environment.
Some of AMCHAM T&T’s recommendations for post-COVID growth are:
1. Develop a national recovery fund with an independent Board to mobilize private capital through the provision of future tax credits.
2. Consolidate and re-finance both sovereign and state enterprise debt.
3. Widen the tax net by enforcing the existing tax laws for non-compliant businesses.
4. Divestment and strategic investments/acquisitions of and by state companies that have been operating as commercial entities.
5. Amend regulations to allow institutional and private investors to invest a portion of their capital in Venture Capital and Private Equity funds.
6. Consider allocating less than 5% of the Heritage Fund for investing in Private Equity as an Investment Asset Class, alongside the Private Sector and the State.
AMCHAM T&T continues to emphasize the importance of digital transformation of the economy for economic recovery, citizen satisfaction and sustainable growth. In this context, AMCHAM T&T is proposing an accelerated digital policy for existing digital strategies and to support greater innovation within the government. Therefore, what is needed is a coordinated approach to complete and adopt the policies around open source, remote working, data strategy, GORTT asset management, cloud computing, change management, e-government omnibus technical standards (e-GOTS) and interoperability (e-GIF) and ISO/IEC 27000 series.
AMCHAM T&T is also recommending the creation and implementation of an ICT skills development and education policy that enables global ICT competitiveness in select sub-sectors; Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) methods for critical government services; full acceptance of digital and electronic signatures; establishing a data interoperability framework; designing a comprehensive change management strategy and communications plan for engaging stakeholder groups within and outside the government; a national open data policy and implementing a National Unique Identifier and Legal Digital Identity.
Additionally, AMCHAM T&T is recommending the prioritization of the National Statistical Institute and its resource requirements to attain better quality data sets on the national economy and to improve the frequency of the update/delivery of such data for both Government and business planning.
AMCHAM T&T believes the express parcel industry is an important component of T&T’s competitiveness which is why shipments should be processed within 24 or at a maximum of 48 hours from the beginning of the last-mile (arrival into T&T) process to the end. Therefore, with international trade increasing, AMCHAM T&T recommends the use of the full capacity of ASCUYDA by the Customs and Excise Division to avoid delays and unnecessary backlogs that are negatively impacting doing business in T&T. Also, once more, AMCHAM T&T would like to see the implementation of a de minimus value of USD$400 to ensure a much more efficient system that would lead to increased collection of much-needed revenue.
On our nation’s energy front, AMCHAM T&T recommends that the government articulate and share a comprehensive energy sector strategy that addresses the entire value chain for the monetization of the nation’s hydrocarbon resources and transition to renewable sources of energy and fuel. Included in this strategy should be the operationalization of a T&T High Commission in Georgetown to further T&T’s national interests, with a focus on economic diplomacy and trade promotion since Guyana is projected to be the fastest-growing economy in the Western Hemisphere over the next decade.
Also, as a measure of supporting individuals and businesses in T&T, AMCHAM T&T believes it is important that the Government settles its outstanding debt to private companies. Many companies have granted Government credit terms for goods and services, which are past due. Therefore, in order to facilitate quicker recovery from the pandemic, it is important that the Government honour its obligations, as many companies are struggling to obtain positive cash flow during these difficult times.
As always, we stand ready and willing to discuss further and to work with the Government and other stakeholders on the implementation of these recommendations.
AMCHAM T&T invites you to read our 2021-2022 National Budget Recommendations.
AMCHAM T&T - BREAKBEATCODE HACKATHON: 50 STUDENTS LEARN TO CODE WITH MUSIC
The American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago (AMCHAM T&T) successfully hosted the first-ever breakbeatcode hackathon in T&T over the weekend where fifty (50) students between the ages of 13 and 18 were given the opportunity to learn the skill of computer coding.
Breakbeatcode is an initiative that introduces young people in various communities across the globe to learn how to code through beat making and music creation. The initiative is a 20% time project introduced by Google that empowers its employees to spend one day of their workweek, or 20 percent of their time, on a side project of their choosing.
AMCHAM T&T worked with the breakbeatcode team to bring this event to Trinidad and Tobago to engage and expose young people to the many opportunities available to them through their interactions with technology. Students who participated in the event benefitted from interactive and creative engagement with famous local artists such as Nailah Blackman and DJ Robbie (Kes the Band) as well Trinbagooglers Elizabeth Mannette, Akaash Rampersad and Dion Paul who are part of the Google team responsible for bringing the breakbeatcode hackathon to Trinidad and Tobago.
Students were given introductory lessons on coding concepts such as “variables,” “functions,” “while loop” etc. as well as music theory concepts on beats, measures, tempo, repetition, effects etc. The students then had the opportunity to work in teams to develop their own tracks using the Earsketch programme which features beats and sounds donated by popular US hip hop artists such as Ciara, Pharrell and Common. The teams were supported by local coach volunteers who were trained by the breakbeatcode team before the event. These original tracks were uploaded to SoundCloud and protected under the Creative Commons Licensing to ensure the tracks cannot be sold, copied or distributed without express permission from the students. The two-day event ended with a Live DJ session that took all the music tracks created by the students and incorporated them into a custom playlist.
Speaking on the success of the initiative which received applications from nearly 500 students from over 120 secondary schools, Nirad Tewarie, CEO of AMCHAM T&T said the hackathon was a unique opportunity to introduce tech skills to both the current workforce - the teachers and coaches who volunteered - and the workforce of the future - the students. “Ultimately, the goal is to provide increased opportunities to unlock the talents and skills of our citizens so that we are creating the next generation of artist engineers, tech entrepreneurs and business leaders that would be vital to building the tech ecosystem in T&T. To be honest, we really want to show the kids that learning something new can be fun too!”
Tewarie noted that learning to code is beneficial to young people especially in this digital age that is currently dominating how we live, work and play. “Having even basic knowledge of coding creates more job opportunities for young people and helps them become more digitally fluent since they are quicker to learn other aspects of tech,” Tewarie said. “Coding is a skill that teaches problem-solving in a logical and creative way, improves interpersonal skills, expands creativity, and strengthens the ability to bounce back quicker from failure. Equipping our young people with these skills learned through coding will serve them well, wherever they end up in life. We were very grateful to partner with breakbeatcode to bring this empowering initiative to our young people.”
Meanwhile, Stefan Salandy, a former T&T national swimmer who is currently one of the Trinbagooglers working as a coding coach on the breakbeatcode project expressed his satisfaction with the level of enthusiasm and intellectual curiosity shown by the students. “During the live DJ session, the DJ mixed the music the students made to produce a lovely and engaging playlist. The students were clearly happy to hear their work represented in such a manner,” Salandy said. “We've also shared some online resources students can use to continue learning more about programming. It was an honour to be able to participate in this event and give back to my home country. The future of technology in T&T is bright with such driven students leading the way!"
Also, Akaash Rampersad who is a Customer Engineer, Infrastructure Modernization at Google, said the AMCHAM T&T breakbeatcode session has been one of his most rewarding experiences as a Googler and citizen of Trinidad and Tobago. “It was the largest breakbeatcode hackathon to date with the highest level of student participation and engagement,” Rampersad said. “All the teams produced amazing beats which not only highlight their dedication to the event but also showcase the ability of the students to learn something new and excel at it in a short span of time. Congratulations to the students and the coaches!”
AMCHAM T&T would like to thank the team from breakbeatcode for their support for the hackathon and we look forward to the hosting of future sessions to accommodate the 400+ students that were not selected to participate in the two-day event. We are exploring avenues for further collaboration with the Google team and engagement with the students.
The American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago (AMCHAM T&T) will be launching the first-ever breakbeatcode hackathon on August 21st and 22nd for students between the ages of 13 and 18. Breakbeatcode is a 20% time project with Google that introduces young people in various communities across the globe to the basics of computer coding. AMCHAM T&T is working with the breakbeatcode team to bring this event to Trinidad and Tobago.
Nearly 500 students from over 120 secondary schools responded to AMCHAM T&T’s call to participate in the inaugural session of the initiative. A selection committee reviewed the applications and chose fifty (50) students between the ages of 13 and 18 from secondary schools across Trinidad and Tobago to be part of the breakbeatcode hackathon.
The event will feature contributions from a panel of famous local artists such as Nailah Blackman and DJ Robbie (Kes the Band) who will work alongside Googlers Akaash Rampersad and Elizabeth Mannette. Akaash Rampersad who is a Customer Engineer responsible for Infrastructure Modernization, is one of two "Trinbagooglers" (Googler from Trinidad and Tobago) who are working on the Google team to bring the breakbeatcode hackathon to Trinidad and Tobago. Dion Paul, Program Manager - Privacy, Safety and Security, is the second Trinbagoogler and leading the management of the hackathon on behalf of the Google team.
Nirad Tewarie, AMCHAM T&T CEO expressed his gratitude at the number of applications that were received from students and the quality of local talent the initiative has attracted. “I have no doubt that our students will benefit greatly from their interactions with award-winning local talents such as Nailah Blackman and Kes The Band and from our Google experts with whom we are happy to partner on this initiative,” Tewarie said.
“This Breakbeatcode hackathon is another example of AMCHAM T&T continuing to engage conversations around the promotion of tech as a viable sector of growth and development in Trinidad and Tobago. There is no way to develop a thriving tech sector in T&T in the absence of youth participation and engagement and skills development. Therefore, as part of AMCHAM T&T’s efforts to promote tech, we will engage more with youths on issues associated with technology and providing more opportunities for youths to develop new skills using technology.”
The panel for the breakbeatcode hackathon will be moderated by Stuart Franco, CEO of Trinidad Systems Limited and Director of AMCHAM T&T. Apart from learning the basics of coding, students will gain valuable insights and life lessons from the panelist’s personal stories about their journeys of becoming a successful artist or engineer. These stories will highlight how their work has inspired their art and vice versa, thereby creating a more holistic approach to the programme. In addition to the students benefiting from the programme, nine (9) volunteers from Trinidad and Tobago also gained an introductory lesson to coding and developed techniques to enhance their coaching skills as they were trained to be coaches for the hackathon.
Beyond the hackathon, AMCHAM T&T and the breakbeatcode team have already started discussions to create additional opportunities to help the students further develop their coding skills as well as the hosting of future breakbeatcode hackathon events to facilitate the 400+ students that were not selected to participate in the two-day event.
AMCHAM T&T SUPPORTS IDB VIRTUAL
"CHEER FAIR SUMMER CAMP"
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) with the support of AMCHAM T&T will be hosting the free virtual “Cheer Fair Summer Camp” for parents and their children from ages 7 - 16 years. The virtual camp will run for three weeks from August 9th - 27th, 2021 and will feature fun and exciting games and activities while providing educational opportunities related to the areas in which the IDB works.
This year, the camp activities will focus on four (4) main thematic areas: (i) Gender, (ii) Climate Change and the Blue Economy, (iii) Health and (iv) Water, and embraced skill sets such as digital and financial literacy and visual arts. Participants can also expect to engage in yoga, quizzes, innovation and upcycling challenges, and much more. An important element of this year’s Cheer Fair Virtual Summer Camp will be the “Vaxdem” Tik Tok challenge which aims to sensitize and encourage as many adults as possible to get vaccinated as part of the fight against COVID-19. Participants can access the “Vaxdem” Tik Tok challenge by signing up on the camp’s platform.
Carina Cockburn, IDB Country Representative stated, “The Cheer Fair Virtual Summer Camp is all about making fun and engaging activities for the whole family to enjoy even as the necessary Covid-related restrictions continue. In these challenging times, we all need a little Cheer in our lives!”.
The IDB also welcomes the partnership of AMCHAM T&T who will provide technical support via its digital platform to host the event. “AMCHAM T&T is very proud to participate in the Cheer Fair Virtual Camp hosted by our partners at the IDB. Engaging and empowering youths is a major priority for us.” said AMCHAM T&T CEO, Nirad Tewarie. “Over the years, we have been building youth skills and capacities through our National Youth Productivity Forum, engagement with the Restore a Sense of I Can organization, the U.S. Embassy, the Arthur Ashe Institute, and primarily through our work with the students of the Russell Latapy Secondary School.”
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Cheer Fair initiative began back in 2018 as an in-person community engagement event as part of the Bank’s “Unfollow Campaign”. The first two years of the event was held in the towns of Arima and San Fernando with the collaboration of the City Corporation. The previous events featured interactive activities, prizes and surprises for community members of all ages. Due to the current COVID-19 restrictions, this year’s event will be held online with children and their parents as the primary target audience.
Registration for the 2021 IDB T&T Cheer Fair Virtual Summer Camp began on August 4, 2021. Participants can register at https://amchamtt.swoogo.com/idbcheerfair/1386022. New activities, participant slots and sessions are being added to the schedule as they become available. For further information contact (1-868) 822-6400/ IDBTrinidad@iadb.org.
AMCHAM T&T SIGNS MOU OF MUTUAL CO-OPERATION WITH AmCHAM GUYANA
Photo Caption: The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing with President of AmCham Guyana, Zulfikar Ally (l) and AMCHAM T&T President, Toni Sirju-Ramnarine (r) in Georgetown, Guyana on 6th August 2021.
The American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago (AMCHAM T&T) has entered into an agreement with AmCham Guyana that will provide for the establishment of mutual co-operation between the two organisations. This agreement recognises the value of promoting mutual co-operation to advance the interests of the respective members of each organisation and the promotion of trade and investment in both countries.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which was signed in Georgetown, Guyana on 6th August, 2021 by President of AMCHAM T&T, Toni Sirju-Ramnarine and President of AmCham Guyana, Zulfikar Ally will explore opportunities for collaboration and set out the respective roles and responsibilities of both organisations in working cooperatively to further the individual and mutual interests of each organisation.
Toni Sirju-Ramnarine, President of AMCHAM T&T said by focusing on building on greater collaboration and cooperation with our stakeholders, AMCHAM T&T is ensuring success in a post-pandemic era for business. “We are delighted to enter into this partnership with our colleagues at AmCham Guyana because moving forward from this pandemic will require more collaboration and cooperation between all stakeholders that are invested in ensuring the ease of doing business in our respective nations,” Sirju-Ramnarine said.
“Entering into this MoU will allow both organisations to leverage our resources and expertise to provide more far-reaching advocacy and leadership on important issues of regional development. Moreover, it will provide a channel for our members to connect and receive support in each country. The work of the two organisations in both countries as well as our membership in the Association of American Chambers of Commerce of Latin America and the Caribbean is focused on the creation of a healthy, safe and robust economic climate that will promote trade and attract foreign direct investment (FDI), improve the ease of doing business, enhance competition, and produce more value-added jobs.”
Speaking at the signing, AmCham Guyana President Zulfikar Ally said, "it is a pleasure to sign this MoU on behalf of AmCham Guyana to enhance business and trade collaboration among the two AMCHAM’s of Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago. We recognize the importance of looking beyond borders and embracing opportunities for regional collaboration, and this MoU will serve to further fast-track this process.
This MoU is an important step towards realizing the shared goals and objectives of both Chambers, and we look forward to partnering with AMCHAM T&T to advance regional initiatives that strengthen the business and economic relations among the chamber and its members.”
The MoU will see the two organisations collaborating and working together, inter alia, in the following areas:
• To jointly host seminars focusing on key business issues, including but not limited to Health, Safety, Security and the Environment (HSSE), Trade Missions etc;
• Collaborate to encourage members, within both AmCham membership bodies, to support Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives jointly;
• To tap into one another’s networks of professional and industry contacts to support the above objectives;
• Collaborate to build the technical and financial ability and capacity, professional skills and behaviours of the finance, audit and accounting departments in AmCham’s membership bodies, thereby providing benefit to AmCham’s members and by extension, the population of Guyana.
The American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago (AMCHAM T&T) is partnering with breakbeatcode to host a hackathon for students aged 13 to 18 throughout Trinidad and Tobago. breakbeatcode is a 20% time project at Google. The two-day event will introduce students to an initiative called breakbeatcode which uses hip-hop music to teach young people the basics of computer coding.
The program was founded by Richard Achee who works on the Chrome Enterprise Technology Partnership team. The goal of the Hackathon is to teach future leaders to code, collaborate and create in order to open up students to career possibilities such as becoming artist engineers. The coaches involved in the initiative are a collection of professionals in music and technology, including singers, rappers, producers, and entrepreneurs.
AMCHAM T&T is proud to partner with the breakbeatcode team on this venture because it builds on our commitment to promote technology as a viable sector for diversification with the potential for future investment and economic growth. Partnerships such as this one that specifically engages youths also have the added benefit of providing more opportunities for young people to be exposed to technology. This is part of the organisation’s commitment to create spaces for young people to learn, to dream, and to acquire skills that will enable them to become the next generation of innovators, coders, and entrepreneurs in the world of tech.
AMCHAM T&T CEO, Nirad Tewarie says the breakbeatcode Hackathon will have a huge impact on the development of the young people who participate. “There are no limits where technology is concerned and so we must create as many opportunities as possible for our young people to be exposed to technology in an accessible manner and reap the benefits,” Tewarie said. “At AMCHAM T&T, our goal is to ensure that T&T becomes a global tech hub where we are creating the next generation of inventors, innovators and entrepreneurs who are changing the world through technology. Merging the world of music and technology and putting this into the hands of young people will no doubt advance their career prospects and help them to contribute more positively towards the development of their country. Hopefully, if nothing else, the young adults who participate, will be happier at the end of the hackathon.”
Calvin Pinney, TEDx speaker, a military veteran (USMC) and Program Manager (Sales Specialist) at Google Chrome Enterprises has been spearheading the breakbeatcode Hackathon initiative in the Caribbean region for Google. He was also one of the speakers at AMCHAM T&T’s recently concluded Tech Hub Islands Summit (t.h.i.s.) 2021. With breakbeatcode, Pinney has brought together professionals in music and tech, including singers, rappers, producers, entrepreneurs, and tech coaches, to inspire and teach students the skills, habits and mindset they will need to pursue their dreams while creating opportunities to build their social capital.
The two-day event will teach students how to build beats, code in Python and remix music through 1-to-1 instruction from tech coaches from Google. By the end of the session, students will have produced and published their own music tracks.
The breakbeatcode Hackathon which takes place on August 7th and 8th, 2021 is 100% FREE for students aged 13 to 18 but space is limited. AMCHAM T&T will be selecting 50 students to participate in the Hackathon. Students are not required to have coding experience but will need internet access and a laptop or desktop computer. (Tablet devices are not recommended). Students will collaborate in randomly constructed teams of five, but team members will not be required to be in the same physical location to participate.
AMCHAM T&T is also looking for ten (10) volunteers (preferably teachers) to help coordinate the teams.
Students can sign up at http://bit.ly/AMCHAMTTBBStu
Volunteers can sign up at http://bit.ly/AMCHAMTTBBVolunteer
The deadline for application is Friday 16th July, 2021.
For more information contact Michelle Laggan at firstname.lastname@example.org or Rey-Anne Paynter-Mendez at email@example.com. Or contact AMCHAM T&T via cell at at 295 – 4869.
AMCHAM T&T remains strongly committed to our members and the wider business community during these challenging times as we continue to advance the opportunities available through the building of a tech ecosystem in T&T.
For further media-related questions or comments please contact: Nirad Tewarie, CEO AMCHAM T&T at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Caroline Toni Sirju-Ramnarine, Vice President of Corporate Operations and Transformation at Atlantic LNG has been appointed the new President of the American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago (AMCHAM T&T) replacing outgoing President, Patricia Ghany who served a three-year term from 2018 – 2021.
“For me, AMCHAM T&T has always been a chamber best characterized for its altruistic actions by people committed to making a difference in the lives of others,” Sirju-Ramnarine told AMCHAM T&T’s approximately 300 member companies in her inaugural address at the organization’s 28th Annual General Meeting on June 22nd, 2021.
Sirju-Ramnarine who is the third woman to be elected as President in the organization’s 28th year history said companies today must remain optimistic and look for opportunities out of the pandemic. She cites progress with vaccines around the world and countries that have pursued aggressive vaccination programmes showing signs of a faster return to normal. “Locally, we are pleased to see the recent progress on that front, and I encourage everyone to do their part in getting us back to normalcy as soon as we can.”
In this regard, AMCHAM has been working with other chambers and private sector organisations on the “Take D Jab Jab” pro-vaccination campaign that will encourage citizens to become vaccinated. Sirju-Ramnarine warns that this is not the time to allow fear to take control, point fingers or lay blame. “It is a time for collaboration – a time for solving problems collectively, a time to put all else aside and to move forward together. Today, we must “Take D Jab Jab.”
Speaking on the theme “Enabling Investment,” Sirju-Ramnarine said AMCHAM T&T is ready to commit to three priority areas of strategic focus to future-proof our economy. The three areas are: 1) The Recovery of the Economy; 2) The use of Technology; and 3) The preparation of our Youth and the Workforce for the Future. “The question today is how can we make the pandemic situation a pivot point to a new future for T&T? The simple answer starts with businesses being able to recover and bounce back stronger. For this to happen, we have to re-instill confidence in the economy.”
“A key element to recovery will be attracting additional Foreign Direct Investment. It will also require significant local investment,” Sirju-Ramnarine said. “Liquidity in the financial system is high. Local companies are listing on the Jamaica Stock Exchange, and some are even moving their headquarters there. We have to make T&T a more attractive place to do business.”
Sirju-Ramnarine said the rule of law will be a key prerequisite to investment attraction and a welcoming business environment. “Countries that display a commitment to the Rule of Law often have high levels of economic freedom, social mobility, and economic growth,” Sirju-Ramnarine said.
“We’re sure that you will agree that enhanced transparency and consistent application of rules are good for business and absolutely necessary for the attraction of investment,” said Sirju-Ramnarine.
AMCHAM T&T over the coming months will be working with the US Embassy and other stakeholders locally on a series of Rule of Law initiatives with the possibility of establishing a multi-stakeholder, Rule of Law Committee.
The new AMCHAM T&T President also said the development of a tech sector will be another major strategic pillar of AMCHAM T&T moving forward that will be key to T&T’s successful recovery from the pandemic. “With efforts focused on re-shoring and nearshoring, coupled with the transformation imperatives laid bare by the pandemic, we have a golden opportunity to make the goal of creating a tech hub, a reality,” Sirju-Ramnarine said. “In addition to the benefits of creating a tech industry, we also have to harness the transformative power of technology. In this vein, the digital transformation of businesses and the Government will be key to a successful recovery.”
Finally, AMCHAM T&T is looking to prioritize youths in the new workforce of the future. Sirju-Ramnarine said developing youths in the new workforce of the future requires building a “Culture of Curiosity” that molds a cadre of young people with analytical thinking skills and other critical skills for the future. “This requires significant work that must be done in examining the role of schools and on the current curriculum. While the pandemic has shown that online school cannot work in totality, we have seen many new tools and techniques being incorporated into the way teachers teach and how students learn. Therefore, our education system must see technical and vocational skills ranging from specific software to soft-skill training as investments into our future.”
At the 24th Annual General Meeting (AGM), AMCHAM T&T elected the following Board of Directors for the term 2021 – 2023:
• PRESIDENT – Toni Sirju-Ramnarine – VP Corporate Operations & Transformation, Atlantic LNG Company Limited
• VICE PRESIDENT – Greer Quan – Chief Executive Officer, Caribbean, Pan-American Life Insurance Group
• VICE PRESIDENT – Gregory Hill – Managing Director, ANSA Merchant Bank Limited
• SECRETARY – Glenn Hamel-Smith – Partner, Head - Banking and Finance, M. Hamel-Smith & Co.
• TREASURER – Mitchell De Silva – Citi Country Officer - T&T Hub, Citibank
• Anna Henderson – Chief Executive Officer, AMARANTH Business Solutions
• Andrea Davis – Country Manager, DHL
• Angelique Parisot-Potter – Executive VP and General Counsel, MASSY
• Dominic Rampersad – President, Phoenix Park Gas Processors Ltd.
• Katishe Serrette – VP-AML/ATF Compliance, Scotiabank Trinidad & Tobago Limited
• Giselle Thompson – VP Corporate Operations, BP TT
• Patricia Ghany – Chief Financial Officer, Esau Oilfield Supplies Co. Ltd (Immediate Past President – AMCHAM T&T)
• Richard Look Kin – Group Chief Risk Officer, First Citizens Trinidad & Tobago
• Simon Aqui – Business Development Executive, IBM Trinidad
• Stuart Franco – Chief Executive Officer, The TSL Group
• Karrian Hepburn – Vice President, Sales and Service, Trinidad & Tobago Unit Trust Corporation
Chargé d’Affaires, Shante Moore – U.S Embassy Trinidad & Tobago Ex- Officio position
Nirad Tewarie CEO AMCHAM T&T Ex-Officio position
AMCHAM T&T’s 28th Annual General Meeting was sponsored by Platinum Sponsor: E-zone Logistics; Gold Sponsor: Nu-Iron Trinidad and Tobago and Silver Sponsors: Pan American Life Insurance Group; EOG Resources and Atlantic LNG.
For more information, interested persons can visit www.amchamtt.com.
25TH ANNUAL HEALTH, SAFETY, SECURITY AND ENVIRONMENT (HSSE) VIRTUAL CONFERENCE AND EXHIBITION
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F: (868) 628-9428
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P.O. Bag 150, Newtown,
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