TOKEN OF APPRECIATION: Gopalan Srinivasan, right, chairman of New India Assurance, Mumbai, India, presents a token of appreciation to Trade Minister Vasant Bharath at an interfaith service to commemorate the one-year anniversary of New India Assurance’s flagship Victoria Avenue, Port of Spain building on Thursday. —Photo: STEPHEN DOOBAY

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‘T&T to be launch pad for expansion’

By Carla Bridglal carla.bridglal@trinidadexpress.com

The financial service sector is critical for the country’s future diversification, Trade and Industry Minister Vasant Bharath has said. 

‘There is no doubt that our twin island Republic is widely recognised as the region’s financial capital which accounts for 25 per cent of our non-energy GDP.  The contribution of this sector to overall Services GDP increased to an estimated $13.1 billion in 2012,” Bharath told the audience on Thursday at an interfaith service held to commemorate the first anniversary of the New India Assurance Building  on Victoria Avenue, Port of Spain.

In the Ministry of Finance’s Review of the Economy 2013, the services sector is projected to grow in real terms by 2.6 per cent in 2014.  The strongest growth (5.3 per cent) is expected in the largest services sub-sector, finance, insurance and real estate. 

Bharath said, “New India’s presence in Trinidad for over sixty years, has certainly contributed to the development of our local economy. Insurance not only provides a stable operating environment, but it also improves companies’ awareness of risk management, and influences their investment decisions and provides a safety net that allows policyholders to restart their activities whatever the difficulties they have to cope with.”

The government has placed legislative reform (including the revised insurance Act) to investors who come to do business stay to do business, he added.

“New India in Trinidad is doing very well, growing well, with profitable, financial strength; I am extremely impressed. We see a great future here,” New India chairman Gopalan Srinivasan, visiting from Mumbai, said, adding there was great growth potential in the local economy, with lots of economic development in the works.

He added that the company had been part of consultations with the Central Bank on the new insurance bill, and was happy to see the proposed changes, especially for capital requirements and others that needed to be modernised.

“New India will support all these changes because we feel they are required for proper functioning of the industry,” he said. 

He added that the company had expansion plans for Canada, Myanmar and, regionally, into Guyana—for which it will use Trinidad as its launch pad. 

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