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Business leaders urge value for $$

$20b 'boom' for South welcomed

By Sue-Ann Wayow sue-ann.wayow@trinidadexpress.com

THE heads of several business associations are pleased with the news from Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar that $20 billion will be invested in the development of south Trinidad in the coming months and years.

On Monday, Persad-Bissessar announced the money will be invested in the energy industry in south Trinidad and that the construction of the San Fernando to Point Fortin Highway was crucial.

She said almost $3 billion would come from BHP Billiton, Mitsubishi and Petrotrin.

President of the San Fernando Business Association Daphne Bartlett said of Persad-Bissessar's statement: "It is welcome information to us, and we are waiting to hear more details on that. It is very heartening to know that there is light at the end of our tunnel. The world is in recession and we can have these investors coming. It is certainly going to help to boost our economy, so we are looking forward to hearing more details on that."

Sahid Hosein, president of the Penal/Debe Chamber of Commerce, said the highway itself would generate more economic activity.

He said: "We are extremely happy that we are attracting investments and policies facilitating that. The only thing we hope is that at the end of the day, whatever money accrues to the country is spent in a manner in which you get value for money at the end of the day."

President of the Siparia  Chamber of Commerce Keith Sankar said the Chamber was "elated" by the Prime Minister's statements because "rural Trinidad has been suffering for many years".

"All the big companies are going to come and invest and make the place economically viable. We welcome that which will mean more employment for our people."

And Zamanath Ali, president of the Chaguanas Chamber of Commerce, said: "As long as the money is going to be spent on things that are necessary and can further develop Trinidad and Tobago and enhance the lives, first of all, of the people in the area, which could also rain down to the benefit of the country as a whole, I don't have a problem with that.

"What the business community will continue to ask for though is accountability as to how the monies are spent and control costs and overruns on those things."

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