Urgent Action Required on Port Delays
AMCHAM T&T would like to applaud the Customs and Excise Division for finally beginning the process of full implementation of the electronic clearance application, ASYCUDA 4.2.2. If managed effectively and implemented fully, this transition can result in greater revenue collection, better detection of contraband and improved efficiency of the clearance system at the ports.
Unfortunately, continued changes without adequate engagement with the industry is creating a situation where the sputtering economy is being further choked. In addition to having to deal with a lack of Standard Operating Procedures, resulting in frequent, seemingly arbitrary changes to clearance processes and operations over the past several years, no items could have been cleared at the ports from December 31st to 4th January to facilitate the migration to ASYCUDA.
Regrettably, the new system has been down more than it has been functional since going live on Monday. We understand that a major software upgrade sometimes results in “teething problems”. However, these new stresses compound a situation in which clearance times and costs in T&T continue to escalate.
The business community has been in frequent communication with Customs and the line Ministry – Ministry of Finance. For more than a year our Express Logistics Committee has been meeting with the Customs’ Leadership in an attempt to streamline and standardize Customs’ procedures to provide clarity and stability in the market. We have had several meetings with the Honourable Minister of Finance, Colm Imbert on these matters as well.
These have resulted in some small but meaningful gains. However, our small gains will be eroded if we do not seek to quickly rectify the ongoing problems at the ports. We are once again experiencing not only delays, but also several hours of overtime to clear seemingly simple shipments. We continue to be alarmed and concerned that multiple companies are charged overtime for the same time period. It is obscene that in the absence of a proper, centralized, risk-based management system this creates the conditions for which the need for overtime is determined by the officers who will benefit from this overtime.
These delays and the addition of bureaucracy not only add to the overall cost of operations to the Express Courier and Freight Forwarder Industries, but also result in additional costs to small and medium enterprises, in particular, at a time when they can ill-afford increased costs. Customs has justified these delays with increases in tax revenue collection, however, we propose that an increase in tax revenue should not be at the detriment of the industry. We believe an efficient Customs Division will not only lead to greater tax revenues, but it will redound to greater efficiencies for the entire economy - the more shipments are cleared the more revenue (duties and VAT) can be collected by Government, and the faster businesses can get the products to continue to operate.
Increased taxation of a smaller number of businesses will not grow the economy. In fact, such continued action will further shrink the economy.
Going forward, we look forward to the production of Standard Operating Procedures to be publicly available and adhered to at all ports. A centralized, integrated and robust risk management system must also be put into place if the Government intends to protect the borders at the official ports of entry and simultaneously improve the ease of doing business. We also believe that meaningful, open dialogue should continue with adequate consultation, adjustment and testing before new measures are implemented.
In the meantime, urgent leadership from the Government and Customs is required to reduce backlogs and to ensure that trade can take place in an efficient manner.
For further questions or comments please contact: Nirad Tewarie, CEO AMCHAM T&T at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AMCHAM T&T Launches Anti-Gender Based Violence Initiative For Private Sector
AMCHAM T&T, in collaboration with The UWI Institute of Gender and Development Studies and the Coalition Against Domestic Violence, is launching an Anti-Gender Based Violence Initiative for private sector entities. The purpose of this Initiative is to prevent all forms of gender-based violence and abuse in the workplace and to help companies develop a workplace policy that supports employees who are victims of gender-based violence.
Nirad Tewarie, CEO of AMCHAM T&T says this initiative reaffirms AMCHAM T&T’s strong commitment to promoting gender equality in the workplace and society. “AMCHAM T&T has been a strong advocate for the promotion of women’s leadership in business and fighting for equality to build a progressive, fully democratic society. Removing obstacles that limit the potential of women to advance in their careers should be a priority for all companies if they intend to reduce gender inequality in their organisations.”
“The training is intended to assist companies to provide resources that will offer support for victims of gender-based violence and identify means to possibly hold more perpetrators accountable. Using the data we get from this Initiative, we will also work with the participating companies, the IGDS and CADV to explore and hopefully develop initiatives to more effectively protect victims of intimate partner violence. AMCHAM T&T believes that implementing workplace policies on gender-based violence will ultimately have a positive impact on the organisation whereby employees are made to feel safe, protected and empowered. Ultimately, this is the type of workplace culture that drives higher rates of productivity, profitability, and performance.”
“Even as we launch this initiative, we are painfully aware that it is the perpetrators who need to be stopped rather than the victims needing to be soothed. That is why we are extremely pleased to be working with two organisations who are on the front lines combatting this issue. Together we hope to be able to do our small part to build the required system to identify and ultimately reduce the prevalence of intimate partner violence (commonly referred to as domestic violence),” Tewarie said.
Speaking to the importance of the Initiative, Dr Gabrielle Hosein, head of the Institute for Gender and Development Studies (IDGS) said: "The data show that 1 in 3 women working in the private sector have experienced physical or sexual partner violence at some point in their lifetime. These women experience higher levels of mental distress, lack of confidence, physical pain and inability to concentrate at work, affecting their ability to earn, lead and succeed. The data also show that the majority do not seek services. However, these women go to work every day and therefore there is a role for the private sector in helping them feel safe and heal, end feelings of shame, break silences, and know that their workplaces are leading in establishing zero tolerance of violence against women, including by identifying and responding to perpetrators with clear workplace guidelines. In showing such leadership, AMCHAM T&T is continuing to collaborate with the women's movement and civil society to transform the realities of violence in women's lives. We aim to keep expanding our partnership, learning from each other, and making whatever difference we can, together.”
The Anti-Gender Based Violence Initiative is designed to address Gender-Based Violence through the execution of a three-phase programme.
Phase one: Survey - How is Gender-Based Violence affecting your employees?
Phase two: Workshop - Understanding Gender-Based Violence and how your organisation can develop a culture of zero-tolerance of Gender-Based Violence. This workshop is tailored to your organisation’s specific needs.
Phase three: Policy Development - Develop your Workplace Anti-Gender Based Violence Policy.
Companies participating in this initiative will benefit from gender-sensitive training that will discourage all forms of Gender-Based Violence and abuse, address the issues of gender, vulnerability, and marginalization, recognize signs of abuse and offer assistance, and address claims of sexual harassment in the workplace.
AMCHAM T&T would like to congratulate Phoenix Park Gas Processors Limited (PPGPL) which is the first company to participate in this initiative and for actively seeking to address gender-based violence in the workplace.
The Anti-Gender Based Violence Initiative is open to all companies and organisations in Trinidad and Tobago. Interested participants seeking to have their Anti-Gender Based Violence Programme executed at their organisations should contact AMCHAM T&T at 295-4869.
AMCHAM T&T has been a leader on issues of gender parity. Earlier this year we achieved gender parity on our Board of Directors. Our Annual Women’s Leadership event is almost a decade old and we have provided mentorship opportunities for more than 100 professional women over the past three years in collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
For further questions or comments please contact: Nirad Tewarie, CEO AMCHAM T&T at email@example.com.
AMCHAM T&T HONOURS HSE EXCELLENCE at its 10th ANNUAL NATIONAL EXCELLENCE IN HSE AWARDS
The American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago (AMCHAM T&T) hosted a virtual ceremony to commemorate the 10th Annual National Excellence in HSE Awards to honour companies in T&T who have demonstrated HSE excellence and leadership in their operations.
Nirad Tewarie, AMCHAM T&T CEO, said the awards, which were endorsed by the Ministry of Labour in 2011 and recognised as a National Award, represented a great partnership between Government and AMCHAM T&T towards promoting HSE standards in T&T. “It is our considered view that this partnership support speaks not only to the laudable nature of the program but is a powerful statement by Government of its recognition of the need to improve national HSE standards in order to ensure that HSE excellence becomes a way of life for all our citizens.”
This year, the National HSE Awards which was held on Day Three of AMCHAM T&T’s 24th Annual HSSE Conference & Exhibition held greater significance due to the ongoing pandemic which has pushed the issue of health and safety as a major concern, not just for companies but also for citizens and countries alike. Over the past seven months, many businesses have been forced to close or leapfrog their operations to digital platforms while ensuring stricter health and safety measures to protect their employees and to maintain business continuity during this pandemic.
In this context, AMCHAM T&T recognizes the value and importance of effective HSSE leadership by companies. Tewarie said when organisations make investments in HSE policies and processes it creates a safety culture than extends beyond the company. “Organisations which emphasise high levels of HSE performance in their operations demand higher standards of HSE performance from their contractors, service providers and support systems, thereby ensuring the broadening and deepening of best practices, including caring for and strengthening the resilience of fence line communities.”
“If there is anything we learnt during the course of the Conference, is that true HSE success will only come when HSE is a value and safety leadership is authentic. Designing policies without leadership and the development of culture will not give you stellar safety results. In that regard, we are elated to see so many companies improving their safety cultures and therefore getting better results, but also seeing companies improve their safety culture from year to year.”
With companies placing a high priority on health and safety measures because of the ongoing pandemic, AMCHAM T&T’s National HSE Awards saw a record number of companies participating in the awards this year. Therefore the judges made the decision to expand the Award scheme to include the new category: Business Continuity: Surviving the Pandemic Award - as a means to highlight the safety measures companies would have implemented to protect their employees and customers.
WINNERS OF AMCHAM T&T’s National HSE Awards 2020 are:
Outstanding OSH/Environment Project 2020
Awards Criteria: The company engaged on a significant project, or “first steps”, on the journey towards achieving HSE excellence. The company demonstrated that its Project entailed the implementation of several of the key elements of formal HSE management systems, i.e. elements of Planning, Risk Management, Implementation or execution, Monitoring and Measurement, Handling Nonconformities, and/or Continual Improvement, OR that the Project addressed systems for building a positive HSE organizational culture, AND that the Project contributed to overall positive Occupational Safety and Health, and/or Environmental Results.
Most Improved HSE Performance
Awards Criteria: This company has embarked on the journey of implementing company-wide HSE Management Systems and has successfully implemented the system as a whole, or major elements of it, AND has achieved a trend of significant improvement in their HSE performance in year 2019, and over the 2 previous years as a minimum. The Award looks for evidence that a strong foundation has been set for building excellence in the near future
BCP Special Award – Business Continuity and Surviving the Pandemic 2020 (Honourable mention)
Awards Criteria: Special Award, while not the winner of this category, the company qualified for the receipt of the BCP Special Award-Business Continuity and Surviving the Pandemic 2020 Award. The company is recognised for the excellent job that it has done in managing its business response to the interruptions caused by COVID-19 to ensure operational resiliency. The company has implemented a strong Risk Management Plan, Business Impact Analysis, Incident Response Plan and Recovery Plan.
Excellence in HSE Award 2020
Awards Criteria: The Company has earned the premier award, the category of ‘Excellent HSE Performance’. This company has established a strong HSE Management Systems AND has achieved excellent occupational health and safety, and Environmental Results. The awardee will serve as a paragon of HSE Excellence in practice and will go on to share their Success Stories with companies within the AMCHAM T&T Membership and beyond, so that we all can firstly believe that impeccable occupational safety and health, and environmental performance records can be achieved and maintained over the years, and we can learn best practices and how to overcome the practical challenges.
AMCHAM T&T would like to congratulate all the WINNERS of the National HSE Awards 2020 and thank them for the leadership they have shown towards achieving HSE excellence in their safety measures and overall business operations. AMCHAM T&T would also like to thank BHP - (Title Sponsor) for their unwavering support since the inception of these awards. AMCHAM T&T extends our sincere gratitude to the HSE Awards Committee and the judges for their hard work by conducting virtual walkthroughs and interviews with employees and management of all companies that participated this year in the National HSE Awards 2020.
Through these awards and the Annual HSSE Conference and Exhibition, AMCHAM T&T continues to uphold and promote HSSE excellence as a key performance indicator towards business success and ensuring the safety and protection of all employees and citizens of our nation.
AMCHAM T&T President Calls for Clear Guidelines for Different Stages of Lockdown
AMCHAM T&T President Patricia Ghany, is calling for clear triggers to be established to determine different levels of response to control the spread of COVID-19. Speaking at the Launch of AMCHAM T&T’s 24th Annual Health, Safety, Security and Environment (HSSE) Conference & Exhibition, she said that “for businesses to be able to bounce back or at least start planning for a recovery, we require predictability. It is our view that restrictions to curtail business and individual activity should be linked to specific triggers. This should be clearly communicated in advance and of course, based on science.”
With the projected contraction of the economy estimated at least negative 6.8 percent for 2020, according to the figures presented in the National Budget, AMCHAM T&T is concerned that further or continued restrictions placed on business will have an even bigger impact on the nation’s economy that will hinder long term growth and investment.
The AMCHAM T&T President outlined a path forward for the re-opening of the economy given that the situation the nation experienced in March is not completely applicable to the current context. “What we did in March when we knew little to nothing about the virus, is not completely applicable now. For example, if we, hypothetically, record five straight days of new cases of more than 100, severe lockdowns may be necessary, but if we are at fewer that say 40 a day for five days, a significant re-opening of the economy may be possible and of course, if we drop to fewer than 20 new cases a day, we can join the CARICOM bubble and fully re-open the economy.”
While the re-opening of the borders remains a public health and safety concern, Ghany says there should be a clear and reasonable criterion for the re-opening of borders.
In the meantime, Ghany says measures like mask wearing, social distancing and no mass gatherings will likely have to remain in effect until a vaccine is developed and administered to the majority of the population. “Individuals will have to take much of the responsibility for ensuring that cases don’t spread through their actions, but continued uncertainty and apparent arbitrary measures are counter-productive.”
Opining on the way forward, the AMCHAM T&T President believes there is a need for deeper engagement and clarity on national development objectives. “Some clear milestones and both short-and long-term objectives in the context of an overall plan are required which would require meaningful engagement with stakeholders.”
Ghany said stakeholders will sometimes have suggestions that are not apparently supportive of the measures being implemented but what is needed now is collaboration, dialogue and meaningful engagement. “It’s a point about culture and collaboration. For our country to be resilient; to be able to build back stronger, we need a more inclusive, more collaborative culture. We face many challenges, and many sacrifices will have to be made. The burden will have to be shared, for sure.”
Ghany says the business community is doing its part. “Companies large and small are donating devices for online school; assisting with food care packages and supporting employees in this difficult time. For true resilience, we need a strong and enabled private sector.”
AMCHAM T&T remains committed to working with the government on behalf of the business community on this issue so that we can ensure our economy and our nation recovers from this pandemic.
AMCHAM T&T President Patricia Ghany Elected to Association of American Chambers of Commerce of Latin America and the Caribbean (AACCLA) Board of Directors
The American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago (AMCHAM T&T) is pleased to announce the election of Patricia Ghany to the Board of Directors of the Association of American Chambers of Commerce of Latin America and the Caribbean (AACCLA).
Ghany who is currently serving in her third term as President of AMCHAM T&T is also the fourth AMCHAM T&T executive to be elected to AACCLA’s Board. Nicholas Galt, Chairman of Trinidad Systems Limited, held the post of Chairman of the AACCLA board in 2013, and currently serves as Chairman Emeritus, while former AMCHAM T&T President, Ravi Suryadevara served on the Board until October 6th, 2020. Nirad Tewarie, AMCHAM T&T CEO has been serving on the AACCLA Board since 2018 as one of only two AmCham CEOs. He was also re-elected for a third, one-year term at the AACCLA 2020 General Assembly.
Ghany who is also the Chief Financial Officer of Esau Oilfield Supplies Company Limited, highlighted the benefits to T&T on her appointment. “I am very humbled to have been elected to serve on the AACCLA Board. My different roles at AMCHAM T&T have allowed me to grow both professionally and personally and I will bring the same passion, commitment and enthusiasm in my new role on the board of AACCLA.”
“Historically AMCHAM T&T has had a very supportive and productive relationship with AACCLA which I do hope to build on while serving on the board. This appointment will position T&T to have a much stronger voice outlining the opportunities for trade and investment in T&T with our partners in the western hemisphere and particularly with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is the largest business federation in the world. In this new role, I want to continue the work we started at AMCHAM T&T which has been to create an attractive business environment in T&T that will widen the investment opportunities, increase our local talent pool and improve the quality of lives for all citizens.
Nirad Tewarie, CEO of AMCHAM T&T who was also re-elected to the AACCLA board said Patricia’s appointment beckons well for AMCHAM T&T and the AACCLA board. “Patricia’s appointment is another glowing example of AMCHAM T&T’s reach and influence across the hemisphere to continue the advocacy for increase investment and trade between the Caribbean and the Americas.
“Her stewardship as President of AMCHAM T&T has been nothing short of transformative, resilient and collaborative in the way we reach out to members, the advocacy positions we take, and how we continue to build an organization that remains viable and engaging to members. She will definitely be a huge asset to AACCLA and to our nation on this prestigious board.”
The Association of American Chambers of Commerce of Latin America and the Caribbean (AACCLA) is an independent, non-profit, business organizations based in 28 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. The organization’s primary objective is to promote trade and investment between their countries and The United States. The 24 AmChams in the region represent over 20,000 U.S. and local companies and executives representing over 80% of U.S. investment in the region.
AMCHAM T&T's Response to 2020-2021 National Budget Presentation
AMCHAM T&T listened with interest to the national budget statement presented by the Honorable Minister of Finance. Overall, we are optimistic that the budget statement outlines some initiatives that could set the platform for future growth.
We applaud the government’s efforts towards their commitment to digital transformation of the economy. The specific commitment to an e-payment gateway for government services, national e-identity and unique national identification number and the use of virtual courts can all be transformative for both individuals and businesses in all sectors. We trust that the Minister of Public Administration and Digital Transformation will give specific timelines for implementation, inclusive of appropriate and meaningful consultation with stakeholders.
Further the commitment to tackle specific impediments to the ease of doing business such as the time taken to get permits, modernization of the Port of Port of Spain and liberalization of the fuel market, which we trust will be done in an orderly and transparent manner, are all welcome.
The Minister of Finance also highlighted several pieces of critical legislation that are high on the Government’s legislative agenda. AMCHAM T&T has long called for more bi-partisanship around the passage of legislation and we are keen to see both parties in the Parliament work together to pass legislation enabling more efficient tax collection, the full operationalization of the public procurement legislation and overall improvement in the ease of doing business.
Some might argue that the measures do not do enough to raise revenue in this fiscal period. That may be so, but if the measures outlined are implemented, there is likely to be a boost of confidence that will stimulate private sector investment in the years to come. Such investments will generate jobs and create additional revenue for the country.
While we are optimistic about what we heard in the budget presentation, AMCHAM T&T is concerned about the Minister’s revenue projections given that we only managed to raise $32.5B in fiscal 2020 and we are still being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Admittedly, without access to all of the information that the Minister used to calculate his revenue projection, we are somewhat worried that this target is overly ambitious and may force the government to undertake further borrowing or mid-year cuts that could undermine the attempts at modernisation.
For further questions or comments please contact: Nirad Tewarie, CEO AMCHAM T&T at firstname.lastname@example.org
AMCHAM T&T Achieves Gender Parity with the Appointment of Two Female Directors to Board
The American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago (AMCHAM T&T) welcomes two highly respected women to its Board of Directors with the appointment of Andrea Davis, Country Manager of DHL Express and Angélique Parisot-Potter, Executive Vice President of Business Integrity & Group General Counsel at Massy Group of Companies. With the addition of these two women, who were invited to serve to fill two casual vacancies that arose, AMCHAM T&T has achieved a strategic goal of reaching gender parity with a new board consisting of eight (8) men and eight (8) women.
AMCHAM T&T is a long-standing advocate for gender parity in all sectors of society. We have committed ourselves to this work because achieving gender parity and promoting women’s leadership in business is one of the major pillars of AMCHAM T&T. After all, we’re in 2020! Our commitment to this goal continues through the hosting of the annual Women’s Leadership Conference, the Women in Leadership Mentorship Programme which provides career advice and mentorship to female professionals across various industry sectors in the private sector and a soon-to-be-launched series of gender based violence sensitization workshops in collaboration with the UWI Institute for Gender and Development Studies.
Patricia Ghany, President of AMCHAM T&T says this is an important achievement and a clear case of AMCHAM T&T walking the talk. “Reaching gender parity is another significant milestone for AMCHAM T&T. I am very proud and humble to lead an organisation that boasts of an equal number of men and women sitting on our Board of Directors. This guarantees greater diversity of ideas, opinions, values and positions that will no doubt benefit our members, the business community and by large, our nation. I see this as the starting block towards building the progressive, fully democratic society that we all envisioned.”
“It was only one year ago at our Women’s Leadership Conference when I asked our members to commit to adding at least one woman to their Boards every year so that parity could be their goal. Now that AMCHAM T&T has reached parity on our board, I would like to re-state that call-to-action to our members so that they make gender parity a part of their business objectives while they lead their companies through this pandemic.”
Meanwhile, Nirad Tewarie, CEO of AMCHAM T&T says it is an honor for him to be part of an organisation that continues to lead by action and not merely by words. “Achieving gender parity on a board level is a tremendous success for AMCHAM T&T and signals the real commitment and steadfast leadership on this issue by our President, Patricia Ghany and the members of the current board. This gives AMCHAM T&T more incentive to continue our advocacy on promoting the rights and protection of both women and men in the workplace and the wider society until we build that equal and equitable society for all.”
AMCHAM T&T BOARD OF DIRECTORS FOR 2020 – 2021:
• President - Patricia Ghany, Finance Director - Esau Oilfield Supplies Co. Ltd
• Vice President - Mitchell De Silva, Citi Country Officer T&T Hub - Citibank
• Vice President - Gregory Hill, Managing Director - ANSA Merchant Bank Limited
• Secretary - Glenn Hamel-Smith, Partner, Head Banking and Finance - Hamel-Smith
• Treasurer - Dominic Rampersad, President - Phoenix Park Gas Processors Ltd.
• Caroline Toni Sirju Ramnarine, VP, Corporate Operations - Atlantic LNG Company Limited
• Giselle Thompson, VP Corporate Operations - bpTT
• Simon Aqui, Business Development Executive, Caribbean Financial Services Sector - IBM Trinidad
• Greer Quan, Chief Executive Officer, Caribbean - Pan-American Life Insurance Group
• Katishe Serrette, VP-AML/ATF Compliance - Scotiabank Trinidad & Tobago Limited
• Karrian Hepburn, Chief Customer Relationship Officer - Trinidad & Tobago Unit Trust Corporation
• Nicholas Galt, Chairman - Trinidad Systems Limited (The TSL Group)
• Ravi Suryadevara, CEO - Trinidad Valve & Fitting Company
• Richard Look Kin, Group Chief Risk Officer - First Citizens Trinidad & Tobago
• Andrea Davis, Country Manager - DHL Express
• Angélique Parisot-Potter, Executive Vice President of Business Integrity & Group General Counsel - Massy Group of Companies.
Conklin: “Companies Need To Address Resilience to Bounce Back From Crisis”
Dr Todd Conklin, Feature Speaker at AMCHAM T&T's 23rd Annual HSSE Conference & Exhibition (2019)
AMCHAM T&T hosted the Webinar: “Building Resilience – Bouncing Back from the Crisis” with Dr Todd Conklin, Human Performance Expert. This is one of several events leading up to our 24th Annual (Virtual) Health, Safety, Security and Environment Conference and Exhibition which is scheduled for October 19th – 23rd, 2020.
Nirad Tewarie, CEO of AMCHAM T&T, who delivered the Opening Remarks says while COVID-19 has been both destructive and disruptive it has also taught us how to build RESILIENCE – which is the official theme of this year’s Conference and Exhibition. “We believe it is important today for every citizen, and every business and every nation to build resilience if they hope to successfully bounce back from this crisis. It may mean adjusting to a different reality and trying things differently.”
Dr Conklin, who is the Senior Advisor at Los Alamos National Laboratory, has spent the past 15 years teaching global industry leaders how to think of “safety differently” through the Human & Organizational Performance (HOP) philosophy. At this morning’s webinar, he said companies need to address resilience in their current systems to bounce back from the crisis since the future has always been uncertain and cannot be controlled. “To do that we have to redefine the way we think about safety. We know safety is not the absence of failure, safety is not the absence of uncertainty, safety is not the absence of accidents, but safety for us is the presence of capacity and resilience.”
Much like Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs”, Conklin says workers will adapt to a crisis by first securing their personal safety before addressing the needs of the company. “Once that surety of life is met then workers will think about the surety of the company. What’s amazing about this chart is that employers absolutely understood at a fundamental level that you had to take care of their employee’s needs before they could take care of the essential functioning that is needed to happen in the organization.”
He describes the current crisis as a “VUCA” environment i.e. a situation marked by significant increases in volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA). In this unfamiliar environment, companies are making very important operational decisions quickly to ongoing changes that are unpredictable and out of their control with very small amounts of operational information and intelligence. “This environment is dynamic and incredibly connected. There are many interdependencies but no one part of the system is really more important than any other part of the system,” says Conklin.
He advises that VUCA environments require leaders to do things differently. “In a VUCA environment, we want to actually seek diverse opinions. We want to look for expertise in your operations that exists at every single level of your organization. Diversity in every form i.e. thought, experience, position, gives us a broader range of information by which we can make our decisions and make us more successful.”
Conklin said the crisis has shown that our systems are brittle, and anticipation has not been a legitimate strategy. He reports that there is a loss of reciprocity, and more learning and adapting need to be done. He says the difference between measuring and monitoring becomes an important part of understanding how we anticipate the operational future. “Counting on one another is an incredible valuable operational capacity. The ability to be agile, the ability to zig and zag, workers making sense out of their world and creating product, learning and adapting are fundamental to capacity.”
He says bouncing back from the crisis will require companies to discuss with their staff, and questions about the rules that went away during the crisis that doesn’t need to come back and the rules that went away during the pandemic that they will need to maintain. ”Those are the ones we want to look at, reinforce and bring back into the system i.e. rules, policies, processes, procedures that are part of the operations of the company.”
AMCHAM T&T’s annual HSSE conference for the first time will be held virtually on October 19th – 23rd 2020. The virtual conference will offer cutting-edge content on topics related to Mental Health, Cyber Security, Environment and Energy Transition by local and international experts in the HSSE field. There will also be a virtual exhibition for companies to share information and showcase their products and services.
The “Building Resilience – Bouncing Back from the Crisis” Webinar is a series of Pre-Conference Webinars organized by AMCHAM T&T’s H.S.E. Committee that will offer key insights into our upcoming annual HSSE Conference and Exhibition. AMCHAM T&T would like to thank the Title Sponsor: Atlantic LNG; our Platinum Sponsors: NGC, Bp, BHP, and Shell; and our Gold Sponsor: Nu-Iron Trinidad and Tobago for their support to host this Webinar. AMCHAM T&T remains strongly committed to our members and the wider business community as we continue to work on your behalf through these challenging times.
AMCHAM T&T Congratulates Dr the Hon Keith Rowley and the PNM on Election Victory
AMCHAM T&T would like to congratulate Dr. the Hon Keith Rowley and the People’s National Movement (PNM) on their victory at the polls on 10 August, 2020. We look forward to working collaboratively with the new Government to improve the business environment to foster greater economic growth and overall social development.
We also extend congratulations to all newly elected members of Parliament and to the recently appointed Senators and Ministers of Government. We look forward to working with them all on legislative and policy matters.
We note with some degree of pride, that our country can continue to boast of political stability even during periods in which election results are not declared immediately.
We believe this second consecutive term of government should provide the government greater incentive to engage in a robust legislative agenda that would radically transform our society by greatly improving the ease of doing business and the quality of life for all citizens.
Specifically, we are looking forward to the prioritization and fast-tracking of the full implementation of the Public Procurement Bill, The Bail Amendment Bill, Transformed Tax Collection and Administration, Customs and Immigration transformation, including full implementation of the ASYCUDA system.
As we continue to manage the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we look forward to meaningful dialogue and engagement with the incoming government particularly on issues related to trade and investment opportunities, legislative reform, maintaining law and order, and the plans for the digital transformation of our entire society. In that regard, we are greatly encouraged by the explicit addition of the Digital Transformation title to the Ministry of Public Administration and Digital Transformation.
We are grateful to both parties for placing such high importance to the digital economy as a matter of priority in their campaigns this year and we trust that Government will stay true to their commitment to delivering this digital governance agenda to our citizens and that the Opposition will constructively support this objective.
AMCHAM T&T has been a long proponent of digital transformation as we have repeatedly called for a legal digital identity, single national identification number, full acceptance of electronic signatures by the GORTT and to fully implement the legislative arrangements and processes for e-payments. With COVID-
19 still a real threat, we believe a large part of the solution to securing our nation’s economy lies in the swift digital transformation in both the public and private sectors.
Our country and indeed the world is in a very unstable, uncertain place. To ensure we are successful in meeting the myriad of challenges before us, we believe this moment in our nation’s history requires collaborative, bold and clear leadership that truly addresses the real issues affecting the lives of citizens.
We, therefore, repeat our often-made call that the government and opposition put aside petty differences and work towards leading the meaningful change that will improve the quality of life for our citizens. It is our hope and, indeed, expectation of all government and state officials that their stewardship will be underpinned by the principles of transparency, adherence to the rule of law, respect for labour, and management of the environment.
As always, we stand ready, willing, and able to collaborate to achieve these objectives.
Three Key Steps to Move T&T in the Right Direction
Trinidad and Tobago is at a pivotal moment in its social and economic trajectory since our independence. The ability of the oil & gas industry to power up and lift the country’s nose over the waves of external economic realities is fading fast, and we believe that Trinidad and Tobago as it is currently configured, will not sufficiently alter its decade long trajectory of decline, both in nominal GDP and in social cohesion, as evidenced by the decrease in total economic output since the peak of hydrocarbon production in the last decade, reduction in productivity, the recent and continuing closure of several plants in Point Lisas and the increases in the incidence rates of serious and violent crime.
Trinidad and Tobago is a vulnerable, small island nation state with a small population. We do, however, enjoy a stable democracy and strong historical international and multi-lateral partnerships. Positive directional change will almost certainly require Private Sector, Government, Labour and Civil Society to develop a new “joined-up national team”; restore and elevate our functional relationships with our key allies and trading partners to that of VVIP status, create new economic spaces and become obsessed about improving what we have. We believe the following three key next steps will move us in the right direction.
ESTABLISH AN “ACCOUNTABILITY COUNCIL” TO ENGAGE AND ACCOUNT TO THE PUBLIC AND OUR EXTERNAL STAKEHOLDERS ON THE COUNTRY’S TRANSFORMATION PLAN.
Transformation efforts although well-intentioned, are often derailed by various roadblocks known or unknown at the time. Without constant communication this leads to unmanaged expectations and broken promises on a large scale. Accountability drives focus and therefore potential for real action; we believe what we have seen in the last few months can work on a larger scale. We have seen the success of the current administration in its management of the Covid-19 epidemic by formulating policy based on data and science, taking quick and decisive action, and creating a forum for those accountable engaging with the national population at a cadence we have never seen before, and which created a strong sense of alignment in the nation around this issue. We believe true transformation can only occur in the right climate and that is one in which we have an aligned “management and engagement” of the country’s transformation agenda with the people who are accountable to make change happen. We see this as a joint effort with Labour, Civil Society, Government, and Private Sector reporting (at the most senior levels) to the public on a regular cadence on what is being done and why, with opportunities for citizen engagement and responses to questions and concerns. Creating these high level objectives, specific milestones, pre-defined metrics of success and communicating the progress are the ever-present responsibilities and job of leadership, and it is only through collaborative engagement can we be responsible and accountable for this and make it real. This can be achieved by repurposing existing tri-partite institutions such as the NTAC or through the creation of an additional body.
PRIORITIZE EFFICIENCY, TRANSPARENCY, STABILITY AND PREDICTABILITY in our political and economic climate and improve our scores vis à vis those who we benchmark against in this region (and we should see the hemisphere as our region) regarding Ease of Doing Business and the Rule of Law.
AMCHAM T&T’s immediate priorities are the fast-tracking and implementation of the following areas of legislation, old and new: Public Procurement, The Bail Bill, Transformed Tax collection and administration, Customs and Immigration transformation including full implementation of the ASYCUDA system, the adoption of a single national identification number, full acceptance of electronic signatures by the GORTT and fully-implemented legislative arrangements and processes for e-payments., We are convinced that these measures will collectively revolutionize the ease of doing business in Trinidad and Tobago. We must simplify and not remain in bondage to age old bureaucratic practices which originated pre-independence.
RESTORE AND ELEVATE THE IMPORTANCE OF OUR TRUSTED INTERNATIONAL PARTNERS.
Our multilateral and bi-lateral relationships must be underpinned by the principles of transparency, adherence to the rule of law, respect for labour, and management of the environment. These must be geared toward attracting investment that is mutually beneficial and sustainable for both the investors (and investor countries) and Trinidad and Tobago. As such, we should give primacy to our relationships with countries which are likely sources of FDI and who also espouse and uphold our governance and business values. Specifically, we should engage the United States of America to develop initiatives that could form the basis of investment for growth under the America Crece programme and formalize this via an MOU through the US Embassy in Port-of-Spain. Simultaneously, we must continue to support the development of the economies of CARICOM and work towards the full implementation of the Single Economy. This must however be done with the recognition that CARICOM is not going to pull us out of where we find ourselves, and with the near total collapse of the tourism industry, several Caribbean countries will themselves need innovative stabilization and growth strategies over the next decade.
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