Sunday, February 18, 2018

Chamber head: T&T plagued with problems

Lack of competitiveness, real and perceived corruption, crime, the slow pace of legislative reform for procurement and campaign financing, and no real material implementation of the findings of various commissions of enquiry are but some the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce’s concerns about the state of the country.

“Our nation continues to be plagued with (these) issues…essentially affecting out business development and government tax revenue collection, and undermining the growth in our communities,” Chamber president Moonilal Lalchan said in his address Wednesday night at the organisation’s annual general meeting dinner, Hyatt Regency (Trinidad), Port of Spain. 

Lalchan, who at the Chamber’s Annual General Meeting earlier in the day was re-elected to serve a second term as president, said while the Chamber’s collaborative relationship with successive governments allowed for a willingness on governments’ part to meet and listen to the organisation’s views, it still takes too much time for that willingness to be translated into action and full implementation.

“The successive changes in government ministers, permanent secretaries, and their portfolios, have all had a drastic impact in timely implementation. What causes further delays is that each new leader in their respective ministries wants to review and put their own stamp on already-agreed plans,” Lalchan said.

Campaign financing was an “issue of growing importance,” Lalchan said, especially with General Elections expected next year.

“Funding of political campaigns has an impact that goes beyond elections. We cannot continue to focus on the detrimental effects of crime without focusing on the effect that secrecy in campaign financing has on public perception,” he said.

The Chamber, he added, is in full support of campaign financing legislation that mandates full disclosure by all elected officials of campaign funds received.

“I have brought up these issues because as the Chamber this year celebrates 135 years of leadership, we would be remiss in our responsibility to pursue what is right for our businesses and right for our country. Business must take up the mantle of being credible leaders in society and leave a positive legacy for others to follow,” he said.