honoured: Businessman Anthony Sabga speaks with President George Maxwell Richards after receiving the Order of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (for community service) at Queen's Hall, St Ann's, on Wednesday. —Photos: STEPHEN DOOBAY

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Sabga, Bhagwansingh see big gains in SoE

A NECESSARY sacrifice. This is how two of the recipients of the country's highest award—the Order of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago—have described the current State of Emergency.

Business persons Anthony Norman Sabga and Helen Bhagwansingh; widow of the late ex-president Noor Hassanali, Zalayhar Hassanali, and retired judge Philip Louis Ulric Cross received the Order of the Republic on Independence Day on Wednesday.

Sabga, chairman emeritus of the ANSA McAL Group of Companies, said he was humbled after receiving the award.

Questioned about the government's decision to implement a state of emergency, Sabga said he was of the view that it is in the "best interest" of the country.

"The state of emergency is something that happens to be in all of our best interest, for our security. I feel very much better now than I did before," Sabga said.

"I cannot say there is any reason why we should not be very satisfied at what is taking place at the moment," he added.

Sabga said the country's economy is currently sagging but because of a strong foundation it will be able to bounce back, and the state of emergency will be critical in the economy rebounding as it will return investor confidence in the country.

"The economy is struggling a bit but there is every opportunity that things will turn around. We do have a very strong base; it is just a matter of time. Once the state of emergency is over I believe everybody will feel a lot better and regain more confidence," Sabga said.

"This is something which is at the moment lacking. There is a lack of confidence everywhere, whether business people, ordinary people, everybody suffers from a lack of confidence at the moment. We are hoping that the state of emergency will build that confidence which we really need very badly," he added.

Sabga however said the eight-hour curfew period should be adjusted "so that things could become a little more normal".

Businesswoman Bhagwansingh agreed with Sabga that the state of emergency was necessary for the country to move forward.

"You have to lose some to gain something. You cannot expect to gain every time," Bhagwansingh said.

"We want a good country; we love our country and if we have to lose some money for it to become better, we should all agree to that and hope that the government can do something and put it in place for us to get back our lovely, beautiful Trinidad again—best place in the world," she said.

Bhagwansingh said she felt "very honoured and humbled" by the award and that "it shows that when you work hard and do good things, good things come to you".

Hassanali, a Muslim, said receipt of the country's highest award on Eid, the feast marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, was a "double celebration".

Cross, seated in a wheelchair, was the first of 46 individuals and two organisations to receive national awards in celebration of Trinidad and Tobago's 49th anniversary of Independence.

Cross said he was honoured to have been selected to be a recipient of the country's highest award.

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