Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment Vasant Bharath made a commitment to having issues at the ports in Trinidad and Tobago fixed on his very first day on the job.
Speaking at the Trinidad and Tobago Coalition of Services Industries (TTCSI) strategy launch of Exploring Opportunities in the Global IT Services Market, Bharath said on Wednesday that Government recently embarked on a national services strategy to provide a road map for the services sector, fast-tracking trade on paper, but the actual clearing of containers on the port is still an issue.
"As far as documentation is concerned, it is already happening. It, Government, has created an environment whereby the easy way of doing business has become a lot better and, certainly, a lot more efficient, but there is still a roadblock. There is still a hurdle because although we can process all of the people very quickly, the fact is that physically, getting your container off the dock remains a problem.
"So although there has been a lot of development of the information and communication technology (ICT) aspect of things, for it to work effectively and efficiently, it does require collaboration with all agencies involved.
"I committed this morning to speak with the Minister of Finance at the earliest possible time to be able to resolve this issue that we have with Customs and Excise where it takes, for those of you who have ever had the painful experience of having to clear a container off the docks of T&T, it can take from days to weeks to do so.
"So when we allude to the Singapore model, it is all well and good, but the actual reality of the situation is if we don't get the whole chain right, then we still end up having problems, even with the best ICT strategy in the world."
Bharath said the launch was a very important milestone for Trinidad and Tobago because the strategy does provide some practical and innovative recommendations for the promotion of the information technology and animation industries in this country—which represent the fastest growing component of the global economy, even amid the global economical crisis
"The services sector continues to grow at a steady, rapid rate and accounts for two-thirds of global output, and one-third of global employment and almost 20 per cent of world trade, according to the World Bank indicators for 2011.
"I think we have almost everything we need, all the criteria to be able to seize on those opportunities and to be successful."
He said there are few avenues in which this country can really diversify its economy but, certainly, ICT services is one of them.
The services sector, he said, accounts for over 40 per cent of this country's GDP, 46.7 per cent to be exact.