AMCHAM T&T: MORE ENGAGEMENT NEEDED
The American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad & Tobago (AMCHAM T&T), welcomes the Hon. Prime Minister’s Address To The Nation as part of the Government’s effort to keep the population informed about the current state of the nation’s economy.
We acknowledge that the Hon. Prime Minster outlined several critical issues in his address and intentionally dealt with the macro-issues. Moving ahead, we look forward to more specific information on many of the initiatives proposed by the Government, including those that will deal with the on-going crime scourge. The timely delivery of clear, accurate and detailed information is critical for investor confidence, and is characteristic of a Government that is committed to transparency, accountability and good governance in all its affairs.
AMCHAM T&T recognises that the Government has reduced Government expenditure since coming into office. We encourage them to now enact fiscal rules (detailed in our budget submission) for Government spending to ensure discipline, rigour and accountability.
We understand that managing an economy in the current economic climate is challenging, and acknowledge that hard decisions must be made as we restructure our economy to be competitive in today’s world. We also appreciate the Hon. Prime Minister’s call for all sectors of the society to work together to overcome the country’s challenges. In this vein, more meaningful engagement is required to arrive at the best solutions in the shortest possible time.
AMCHAM T&T would also like to see more bi-partisan co-operation in the Parliament, as this will be a critical component of ensuring that our legislative framework is suitable for the changing global economy.
In this regard, AMCHAM T&T remains ready to engage with and assist the Government in any way needed as we all work towards economic stability, leading to socially inclusive growth and prosperity.
AMCHAM T&T CALLS FOR THE PROTECTION OF ALL WORKERS AGAINST HARASSMENT & VICTIMIZATION
The American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad & Tobago (AMCHAM T&T) renews its call for the protection of all workers against gender-based violence, sexual harassment and victimization in any form.
We continue to be unapologetic in our stance for the creation of a society where everyone, irrespective of their gender can be safe: safe to work, safe to play, and safe to speak up.
As issues of Sexual Harassment and Employee Victimization continue to take center stage in the media internationally, we believe that this can create a tipping point for us locally. AMCHAM T&T believes that all leaders in the public and private sector have a part to play to ensure that workplace polices are unambiguous, definitive, clearly communicated and strictly observed. We must make certain that anyone who steps forward to report sexual harassment is protected against victimization. There should always be an open and safe place for women and men to come forward with their allegations. In the same vein, we also believe that all parties (the accused and the accuser) must have a right to a fair, unbiased and thorough investigation.
Activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, once stated that “There are times when silence becomes an accomplice to injustice.” As such, AMCHAM T&T remains committed to raising our voice to highlight this issue. In 2015, we partnered with the United Nations Population Fund in Trinidad & Tobago to help bring greater awareness to the business community on the topic of Sexual Harassment as well as other gender-based issues. Since then, we have continued to highlight our concerns in various fora, including our annual Women’s Leadership Conference, and through partnership with various agencies such as Men Against Domestic Violence and One Caribbean Media in the “Leave She Alone” campaign.
AMCHAM T&T would also like to commend every individual who has had the courage to step forward and speak of their experiences, as well as those who provide a sensitive and supportive environment to encourage same.
21st ANNUAL HEALTH, SAFETY, SECURITY, AND ENVIRONMENT CONFERENCE AND EXHIBITION
TUESDAY 14TH NOVEMBER 2017
HYATT REGENCY TRINIDAD
It is indeed my honour to address you this morning at our 21st Annual Health, Safety, Security and Environment Conference and Exhibition. During my time here at AMCHAM, both as a member of Trade and Investment Committee and as a member of the Board, I have had the pleasure of seeing this event grow both in depth and scope. I can proudly state that it is now our flagship event, and it is the largest gathering of HSE professionals in the region. We have created a forum where the brightest minds in their respective fields come together to share information, encourage best practices, and elevate H.S.S.E awareness and standards.
As the Pathway to the Americas, AMCHAM T&T continues to stress the importance of looking outwards to the Americas. If we are to be successful in this endeavour we must ensure that businesses hold themselves to the highest standard possible. This will give us a greater advantage as we attempt to compete in the global market. As we remain committed in our thrust to make an indelible impact on free and fair trade, and to positively influence the economics of our nation, we will continue to educate and advocate for HSE excellence in organisations. Good HSE policies make good business sense.
This year the theme of the conference is People, Systems and Sustainability. Given the current business climate this theme is very timely, as all three components are necessary for businesses to succeed and thrive.
If we take a closer look at each element, you will see that we have purposely placed People first. People are the most important asset in any organisation. Every person, no matter their position within the organisation, is important. Leaders must nurture and create an environment which encourages and enables growth, safety and security. This is why we found it important to expand our focus on health and wellness to include mental health.
And to the people, the employees, I would like to make this appeal to you. Know your worth in your organisation and the worth of the organisation. Use your greatest asset, which is your voice. Use it to speak up and to speak out. Use it to build bridges. Use it to ask the hard questions and to find the right solutions.
The other two elements: systems and sustainability, go hand in hand. Businesses can no longer focus only on having the right systems, but they must also ensure that these systems are secure and sustainable. There must be the right combination of safety standards, corporate social responsibility, and environmental protection if a business is to be successful.
As we begin our conference I must implore each and every one of you to be unwavering in your attempts to protect the values of excellence in health, safety, and environmental protection in your businesses. Take the information that you learn here and implement them in your organisations.
Finally, I would like to extend a thank you to the HSE Committee and its chair, Curt Cadet. I must also thank our sponsors. We know that this has been a challenging year for most if not all of our organisations and your sponsorship shows not only the trust you place in AMCHAM T&T, but your commitment to this cause.
AMCHAM T&T's Annual H.S.S.E Conference 2017
Remarks by Nigel Darlow, CEO Atlantic for Opening Ceremony
November 10, 2017
Ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning to all and a particular good morning and welcome to the Honourable Minister, Paula Gopee Scoon. Paula of course knows Atlantic very well especially with her connections to our home base in Point Fortin. We thank her for her collaboration and support to Atlantic over the years and are delighted she could join us here this morning.
Atlantic is pleased once again to be the title sponsor for the 25th anniversary edition of the AMCHAM HSSE Conference.
Atlantic congratulates the Chamber on this significant milestone and we take this opportunity to applaud its many achievements stretching over a quarter of a century.
This event is very much established as the leading HSSE Conference in the Trinidad & Tobago calendar. It plays a very important role in promoting and reinforcing best practices in health, safety, security and the environment not only locally but also across the Caribbean Region.
Recognition of the caliber and importance of this conference is clearly evidenced by the many sponsors and attendees here today. So on behalf of the other sponsors of this event, we wish AMCHAM continued success in the future.
The theme for this year’s Conference is “People, Systems, Sustainability”. This very much resonates with Atlantic’s Core Values – what we call our SPiRIT values – of Safety, Performance, Integrity, Respect and Teamwork – and with People being the centre of everything that we do.
I am certain that 2017 has presented challenges to many businesses and Atlantic is no exception. This has been a year which has again seen very significant gas supply shortages to our plant – with rates down at around 70% utilization.
This has had a significant impact on the business – not only the considerable lost revenue opportunity, but the operational challenges of having to continually adjust to gas supply fluctuations. The plant is not on steady operation, making things more complicated and putting additional strain on the plant & equipment and the people operating and maintaining it. Consequently, this has had an adverse impact on our plant reliability, which is lower than normal.
This year Atlantic has also seen a drop in our safety performance. Atlantic has delivered very strong safety performance sustained over many years. Up until August this year we achieved over 37 million man hours – stretching back almost 10 years – without a Lost Time Injury. This achievement has been due to our determination to build and embed a strong Safety Culture, and implement best practices in Safety.
One of the biggest contributors to our safety performance is our commitment to Safety Leadership at all levels in the organisation. There is high visibility of the company’s leadership and management in Safety Walkdowns, Safety Audits and regular Safety forums. Atlantic continues to perform very well in HSSE during our major shutdowns where we have implemented many best practice initiatives such as our Safety Village with Contractors; our Management Safety Walk-downs every 12 hours; our Fatigue Risk Management Policy, and also our practice of regular Safety Stand-Downs. This all helps to ensure Safety is our number one priority.
On the process safety side Atlantic had not experienced a “greater consequence” process safety event for a long time. In addition Atlantic was ranked the leading company in Trinidad and Tobago for Process Safety & Asset Integrity Management in last year’s National Audit conducted by globally renowned experts DNV on behalf of the Government. In fact, DNV commented that Atlantic’s Process Safety Management was amongst the best they had seen globally. This together with our annual Process Safety Week (which promotes awareness of process safety risks) and our strong leading and lagging safety indicators suggested that Atlantic was in a good place with Safety.
However, in the last few months Atlantic has had two process safety events. Back in August we had a gas release on Train 3 due to a failure of a control valve. Fortunately, nobody was hurt in the incident – but things could have turned out very differently. The train was shutdown for 11 days whilst repairs were undertaken and safety checks carried out. Then a month afterwards Atlantic had a fire on one of our nine power generation units. Again, nobody was injured but it did cause damage to the unit.
These two incidents were quite difficult for us to come to terms with. Atlantic had a strong track record and all safety indicators appeared very positive. Yet two incidents happened in quick succession. We have spent a lot of time investigating them and putting in place corrective actions to ensure there can be no repeat. Beyond the immediate investigation we have been standing back and asking ourselves some more fundamental questions about how we operate and maintain the plant – and are there changes we need to make?
So we are having a re-look at things including an external review with our Shareholders – to determine what changes are required. We need to ensure we reinforce and sustain all the good safety processes and systems that exist at Atlantic but also that we identify and correct weaknesses in those processes and systems. So the lesson is to always be wary – and have that “chronic unease” that something could go wrong at any time. Never get complacent.
As I said, 2017 has proven to be a challenging year – but it is also one where Atlantic has delivered some significant value to our stakeholders, and we have moved forward our HSSE agenda.
For instance, Atlantic delivered the Trinidad Region Onshore Compression Project, called TROC, which involved installing large new inlet compression facilities at Atlantic. The TROC project was executed on behalf of one of our shareholders, BP. Its delivery was exemplary – on schedule, below budget, but most importantly of all, with an outstanding safety performance. TROC became operational in April this year and provides an important source of increased gas supply.
Another of our initiatives in 2017 involved Atlantic partnering with a local asphalt production company, to recycle the molecular sieve used in our liquefaction process. The asphalt company thermally oxidizes the molsieves at high temperatures then uses it as a feeder for road paving. This is a significant environmental benefit, as it reduces the need for sand from local quarries. This ground-breaking initiative continues to provide cost savings to Atlantic, but more importantly helps to reduce the risk in handling, transporting and storing used molecular sieves. This project was the overall champion in our annual Atlantic CEO Awards.
I mentioned earlier the significant gas supply shortages impacting the country and in particular Atlantic. We expect the situation to become much improved in the short to medium term, when supply from Juniper increases its flows into the system and other sources come online.
Atlantic’s four train facility remains globally competitive. As I have often stressed, our trains were built at a fraction of the cost of new LNG facilities coming on stream – including those in the US and Australia. This gives Trinidad & Tobago a strong competitive advantage against many LNG sources and helps Atlantic to maintain its status as one of the lowest cost producers of LNG globally.
Additionally, Atlantic’s LNG volumes are sold under long-term contracts with significant destination flexibility. This allows Atlantic’s LNG volumes to continue to compete favourably in global markets against other LNG supply sources, even in the current global over - supply of LNG.
So, given the improving gas supply outlook and Atlantic’s sustained competitive position, the future for Atlantic is a very positive one. But it is extremely important that we continue to deliver a safe and a reliable operation.
This being an HSSE Conference, I want to take a moment to pay tribute to someone who had contributed significantly to the field of HSSE, by both his passion and expertise, and that is Atlantic’s late Vice President of HSSE, Henley Harewood, who sadly passed away suddenly in April this year. Many of you here today will have known Henley – larger than life and very passionate about what really mattered to him: making sure that we all return home safe to our families at the end of each day.
Henley took safety to a different level – he set the bar at new heights. He helped change the safety culture and leadership not just in Atlantic, but amongst our Service Providers and across Trinidad. What Henley delivered did not just make Atlantic a safer working environment but Trinidad and Tobago a safer working environment. Henley should be remembered as one of the great safety leaders. He was very good at what he did, and we all owe him much thanks.
In honour of this great man’s achievements, Atlantic in partnership with the University of the West Indies has established the annual Henley Harewood scholarship in Occupational and Environmental Health and Safety. The first recipient was recently announced, and we look forward to more scholars engaging with this very important area of research.
Some of the challenges that we face in Trinidad and Tobago in the area of occupational and environmental health and safety will require innovative, cost-effective solutions. Whether it is the issue of aging infrastructure and its impact on asset integrity, or enhancing HSSE competence among the workforce, fresh perspectives are needed, as well as practicable, robust solutions that are sustainable in the global marketplace.
We look forward to robust discussion over these two days and to the sharing of best practices. We encourage everyone to continue to work together to make our companies and our country safer. The theme of this year’s Conference highlights how important it is for us to keep our focus on people. This focus should drive everything that we do. When we keep people and their communities safe, helping to meet their needs in ways that are mutually beneficial and also sustainable, then everybody benefits.
So again, on behalf of the sponsors, I thank AMCHAM for arranging this fantastic opportunity, and I know we will all benefit from the exchange of ideas and the strengthening of partnerships. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you.
MORE FEMALE MENTORSHIP NEEDED
“Based on feedback from our annual Women’s Leadership Conference, we realized that more support for women was needed in terms of mentorship. AMCHAM T&T decided that instead of complaining about the problem, we would be part of the solution.” These were the words expressed by AMCHAM T&T’s CEO Nirad Tewarie as he addressed the successful mentees chosen for the Women’s Leadership Mentorship program.
Done in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), this pilot project, will enable AMCHAM T&T to make a greater impact on the local business environment.
“Studies have shown that having more women in the boardroom, and at senior executive positions within a company is good for business. This is a philosophy that AMCHAM T&T fully supports,” Mr. Tewarie added.
The mentees were paired with both female and male mentors from the IDB’s network of professionals in areas of Science and Technology, Information Technology and Economics. Mentee, Thrizyl Nandoo, Account Manager at TSTT raved with excitement at being chosen for the program. “I think this is an amazing opportunity for me to grow and develop in my field” she said. “I have no problem with being paired with a female or male mentor, in fact, I believe that it is necessary to engage men in the process as men make up most of the leadership positions, so we must enlist their help if we are to create any kind of meaningful change” she added.
The mentorship program will span four to six months, depending on the individual needs of each mentee. Carina Cockburn, Principal Operations Specialist IDB, emphasized that: "The IDB is 100% committed to gender equality and sees this Mentorship Program as a perfect opportunity to further demonstrate this commitment. We strongly believe that women and men are equally capable, and women are fully ready to take on more leadership positions, whether it’s in Government or in the boardroom. By empowering women to share in the responsibility of taking our countries forward, we enable them to be agents of change for the overall betterment of our society."
AMCHAM T&T hopes to expand this program in 2018.
The full list of mentees for the 2017 intake are:
AMCHAM T&T TO HOST NATIONAL EXCELLENCE IN HSE AWARDS
The American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad & Tobago (AMCHAM T&T), is once again ready to host the only award ceremony focused on Occupational Health, Safety and the Environment. The 4th Annual National Excellence in HSE Awards will be held on Tuesday 14th November, 2017 at the Port-of-Spain Ballroom, Hyatt Regency.
The annual award ceremony which celebrates companies that exemplify HSE excellence integrated with business excellence, has become an integral part of AMCHAM T&T’s focus on championing for HSE excellence in the workplace. It is also a major highlight of the Annual HSSE Conference and Exhibition which is now in its 21st year.
The number of entrants competing has grown steadily throughout the years, which is a positive indication that companies are committed to implementing HSE best practices in their organisations. Companies that continue to focus on finding creative solutions to increase productivity, while mitigating risk in a period of economic decline should be applauded. Organizations are competing for awards according to the size of the entity (i.e. Small, Medium and Large) within the following Sectors: Energy; Manufacturing; Services to the Energy Sector and Services to the Non-Energy Sector
The main objective of this Awards Scheme is the promotion of the development and implementation of robust occupational health and safety and environmental management systems by companies, and to recognize related achievements. The Award lends distinction and prestige to its recipients who will be acknowledged not only as business leaders, but as recognizing the value of protecting employees and the environment.
Previous winners include: Halliburton, Stork Technical Services, WITCO, bpTT, Phoenix Park Gas Processors Limited, General Electric, Massy InfoCom and Massy WoodGroup.
For more information on the HSE Awards, please contact Melissa Pierre Senior, Trade and Projects Officer at 622-4466
AMCHAM T&T’S RESPONSE TO THE 2017-2018 NATIONAL BUDGET
AMCHAM T&T listened with interest to the National Budget 2017/2018 presentation by the Honourable Minister of Finance. We expected this presentation to result in some difficult measures being announced. We appreciate therefore that the Government has some hard decisions to make and has limited options. We are concerned that the Minister focused too heavily on revenue increases through greater taxation of those who are already compliant, and filling the revenue gap through the one off sale of CL Financial assets. Overtaxing of the formal economy is going to have a dampening effect on reinvestment.
We feel the presentation fell short on explaining measures to expand tax collection into the informal and underground economies. In spite of a desire to bring the gaming industry into the tax net to a greater extent, simply increasing taxes while admitting that tax collection in the sector is weak, is unlikely to work.
Most worrying is the potential negative impact on investment of the additional taxes on the upstream energy sector, most significant of which will be the proposed Supplemental Petroleum Tax on gas. We hope that this will only be done after consultation with the industry. In addition, the apparent concentration of additional discretionary power in the Cabinet in terms of the small business grants and housing projects should be carefully considered as it is not in keeping with best practice regarding to transparency.
The commitment to transform the public service and take the hard decisions in this regard was welcomed but we have heard such promises in the past. We now await the specifics.
We do support the establishment of the Revenue Authority which would combine both the BIR and the Customs Department. The implementation of this requires deep and meaningful engagement with all stakeholders. We support the establishment of the semi-autonomous Board to oversee the establishment of this Authority and we urge the inclusion of the Customs functions in the TTBiz Link Platform.
We appreciate the re-commitment to the establishment of the Procurement Regulator and encourage the Government to keep to its commitment in this regard, the most important function of which would be to provide the necessary resources and funding.
We are pleased that the Minister made good on his commitment to adjust the margins for fuel peddlers and dealers and encourage regular reviews since this is a fixed price industry. The increased incentives to the Tourism sector can be useful to stimulate activity in this sector and we encourage even greater policy co-ordination and execution to achieve the stated policy results.
Incentives for the tourism sector seemed to be concentrated on room stock and, while important, other key stakeholders need to be considered in any incentive scheme: tour operators, car rental companies, entertainment etc. These actors are a key component of the tourism industry and we should examine how incentives can be provided to these entities as well.
We will expand on this statement at our Post Budget Analysis Event on Wednesday 4th October at the Trinidad Hilton at which Minister Allyson West will deliver the Feature Address and focus on tax-related matters including the establishment of the Revenue Authority.
“It is a very difficult time for us Trinbagonians, but whatever people can give we would appreciate it. We know that people help in different ways and so we encourage all to give how much they can afford in this relief effort,” Nirad Tewarie, CEO AMCHAM T&T
For those wishing to donate can use the link below.
In celebration of AACCLA's 50th Anniversary, the 24 AmChams in Latin America and the Caribbean and all members of the US Chamber of Commerce participated in AACCLA DAY. Each AmCham did volunteer work in their respective countries. The idea behind the initiative is undertake projects that positively impact citizens at the local level, with spillover benefits to the region.
AMCHAM T&T decided to do a number of activities focused on positive youth engagement in T&T. We collaborated with the St. James Police Youth Club and the Russell Latapy Government High School.
The St. James Police Youth Club, like AMCHAM T&T is celebrating it’s 25th Anniversary in 2017.
The PYC’s motto: “Join a club and not a gang” is relevant now, more than even before.
As part of our outreach activities, AMCHAM T&T through its security Committee has adopted the PYC. The PYC supports preventive policing, exposing young people to productive activities in education, sports, culture, spirituality, community service, life skills and employment as alternatives to crime, juvenile delinquency and drugs.
The club also has a resident program for 8-10 young men, between the ages of 12-18 who reside on the premises. The PYC’s vacation camp is free of charge to children and runs from 17th July 2017 to August 31st. It facilitates almost 100 campers ranging in age from 3 years old to 21 years old
Our aim was to expose the children to activities (and possible career paths) that they would not traditionally consider given their background. To expose them to new opportunities and ways of thinking - while still involving the business community
Our areas of focus included
● Arts and Entertainment
● Science and Technology
● Energy sector
● Environmental sustainability
This initiative gave campers a sense of what goes on at the various companies.
The hope is that the activities are not only fun, but also insightful and educates participants on various environmental issues and economic sectors, perhaps presenting possible career choices to the PYC members
Russell Latapy Government High School
AMCHAM T&T is embarking on a new Corporate Social Responsibility initiative involving the form 1 classes of the Russell Latapy Government High School.
This school is among several secondary schools throughout Trinidad that has received negative publicity and faces many challenges that inhibit its students’ abilities to reach their potential.
On Sunday 28th August, AMCHAM T&T met with representatives from partnering organisations -the WAND Foundation, the Pan American Health Organization, UTT, and the Ministry of Health, to discuss the plans going forward to implement a positive program for the students.
Some of the areas in which the program will focus include health & wellness, nutrition, counselling, conflict resolution, and field trips.
Click on the link to view a short video of our AACCLA Day activities.
AMCHAM T&T MAKES A CALL FOR GREATER COLLABORATION AND DIALOGUE
The American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad & Tobago (AMCHAM T&T) would like to address the call made by union leader Ancil Roget to “boycott the 1%” on Friday 4th August 2017. AMCHAM T&T believes the statement is not only unfortunate but counterproductive. In every country where a minority has been persecuted in an attempt to shift power or influence to another group, the result has been economic and social decay.
We believe that statements such as these are very divisive and not in the best interest of the very workers that they are supposed to represent.
We acknowledge that Trade Unions have a very important part to play in protecting and promoting the rights and best interests of their members. This can only be done through dialogue leading to constructive solutions. In that regard, we too would like to see a return to multiparty dialogue in a manner that allows all stakeholders to participate in a meaningful and constructive way. The National Tripartite Advisory Council (NTAC) was that vehicle, but it is not functioning as intended. AMCHAM T&T stands ready to assist and participate in its reformation to facilitate meaningful dialogue and a path forward.
The world is in the midst of an economic crisis, with new political and social disruptions occurring every day. At this time, the country needs leaders – including Trade Union leaders - who are willing to look past all differences and seek solutions to the challenges we face. We believe that this is not the time for pointing fingers, but instead a time of increased collaboration and dialogue. Myopic viewpoints and unreasonable demands that seek to promote specific agendas rather than finding innovative solutions should not be the first course of action.
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