Wednesday, January 17, 2018

CEPEP adds value to T&T

When Ms Catherine Kumar took up the post at the Central Bank in 2003, she told the media: “I have a lot of catching up to do. It is a

learning curve, in that I am new to the Central Bank and I don’t know the banking industry in depth.”

Had she sustained the same philosophy in her capacity in the present post as CEO of the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Commerce, she would not have urged the shutdown of CEPEP (Community-based Environmental Protection and Enhancement Programme).

Today’s Trinidad Express quotes her as saying: “CEPEP is not the way to go and (its) funds should be redirected to helping the private sector put a different means in place so they can employ the persons from the beginning, train them in the different areas in which they employ them and really make them do meaningful work.”

CEPEP operates

via hundreds of private-

sector contracted companies, all of which, since 2010, have been rigorously required to train their employees in many different areas (notably, professional community guardianship of the natural environment, environmental laws and regulations, life skills, project planning and management, and occupational safety).

These contracted companies do meaningful work, for what more meaningful work may one do than scientifically managing the waste generated by commercial enterprises, which couldn’t care less about the down-the-road, negative impacts their products wreak on the physical landscape, particularly from single-use plastic and Styrofoam containers and packaging.

If CEPEP is put on ice, Ms Kumar, who will clean the crap to follow? Rather than dissing

CEPEP, the Chamber of Commerce ought to be insisting the programme be extended exponentially, until it covers every nook and cranny of T&T. In the face of rampant capitalism, it’s about the only way T&T can have and maintain an aesthetically pleasant natural environment.

The sensible approach would have been for the chamber head to call on CEPEP to launch and sustain a nationwide education project, aimed at the school-age

population, similar to the tre­men­dously successful “Drive Charlie Away” campaign. As the “Father of The Nation” prophe­sied 52 years ago: “The future of T&T lies in the children’s schoolbags.”

She could have also embarked on a drive, aimed at encouraging her members to let CEPEP deal with their commercial trash professionally if she believes CEPEP isn’t earning its keep. (Without giving details, she did emphasise CEPEP’s terms and conditions for its contracted janitorial workers outstrip what her members offer workers they engage for similar duties.)

Ms Kumar needs to make amends for her off-the-cuff put­-

down by inviting these CEPEP-contracting companies to join the

Chamber of Commerce. That would clean up any misconceptions of CEPEP’s value, which, through its private-sector contrac­-

tors, significantly adds to the gross domestic product and national psyche of Trinidad and Tobago.

Richard Wm Thomas