“Risk Management That Is Agile and Flexible For Emerging
And Unknown Scenarios”
Risk management allows organizations to prepare for the unexpected by minimizing risks and extra costs before they happen. Much of the risks and threats posed to companies in the past have come from financial uncertainty, legal liabilities, strategic management errors, accidents, and natural disasters. However, with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the closure of businesses, remote working, and government-mandated national shutdowns of all non-essential services in many countries, businesses are now dealing with new and bigger threats.
AMCHAM T&T hosted a Webinar on “Navigating the Pandemic: The Usefulness of Risk Management” which was moderated by our H.S.E. Committee Chair, Ms. Cindi Nandlal, to provide vital information and additional resources that will help businesses and the wider society adjust to the health and economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nirad Tewarie, CEO of AMCHAM T&T said companies will have to begin investing more towards improving their risk landscape which is changing every day because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We may have to perform more new risk assessments and continually adjust control measures to contain those new or heightened risks. So, we must come together and start developing practical solutions – if we haven't done so before – that will start looking more closely into our crisis management plans and business continuity plans in an era of COVID-19. We also need to re-think how we assess risk and prepare for events that could impact our businesses. Nassim Taleb – author of the Black Swan – is on record as saying that COVID-19 is not a Black Swan event as it was entirely predictable, yet many of us were almost totally unprepared to respond to it.”
“We understand that many companies are struggling to cope in these times due to the major disruptions caused by the response measures to stop the spread of the virus. The reality is that this virus is going to be with us for some time in the immediate future if there is no vaccine, but we also have to find safe and responsible ways to ensure that we can conduct and operate business during these challenging times,” Tewarie said.
Nippin Anand, feature speaker at the Webinar and founder of Novellus Solutions - a UK based company with world-class expertise in Human Factors and Safety Management Systems, argued that it is deeply problematic to think only in terms of errors when accessing risks and safety management policies. “There is very little value in looking at problems as errors, malfunctions, non-compliance, slips, and mistakes. We need to mature in terms of our language because this is where the safety science is taking us towards.”
Drawing insight from the real-life case study of the Costa Concordia accident – which claimed the lives of 32 passengers in 2012 when the ship capsized after hitting a rock off the coast of Giglio, an island on Italy's Tuscan coast – Anand reported that the crew was unwilling to speak up against the captain despite obvious warning signs that the ship had veered off course and was too close to the rocks.
Anand says in many situations when we push people to challenge authority it becomes difficult because we are not sure when the roles will be switched in the same space between the student and the teacher. “It is not just the captain. He is also the teacher. In certain cultures, and certain societies, we don't question the teacher. We don't quite understand these dynamics,” he says.
“We talk about leadership and accountability. Let's try and understand that when there is a significant gap between the captain and the subordinate, between the surgeon and his subordinate, between the pilot and his subordinate, between the trainer and his subordinates. What sense does it make to ask these questions?”
Anand says subordinates do not question authority because of the way society has organized the different roles and the value of the information that comes from the respective players. “From the perspective of the novice, he feels threatened. He feels very uncomfortable that whatever he says would make him feel exposed as somebody who doesn't understand anything, as somebody who's incompetent. And nobody is really making up anything. This is how we have organized these teams under very tremendous pressures.”
Anand argues that language plays an important role. “We should stop asking people to follow behavior-based safety and behavior-based tools. What is really needed is something more powerful and that is a shift in language. Language plays a very important role. So, people feel more comfortable talking about their adaptability and that is a very powerful way to influence the culture change. It is to give people a new language, a new way of thinking.”
“Today we have what you call reporting systems, that you spot something, and you report but they are very linear systems, they are very one-directional. The idea is to create systems of that thinking where we encourage that "two-way conversations", where somebody in a COVID situation sees something unusual and they can discuss this with the office and you can come up with a solution.”
Anand also said business leaders need to keep their focus on building a safety and risk management system that supports the outcome in relation to reality. “Business leaders should stop counting on outcome after an accident as a way to say that you are a safe or unsafe organization. In other words, stop counting on loss time incidents, casualties and breakdowns as a way to understand who is a hero and who is a villain. If you leave the outcome aside i.e. people getting hurt or injured, there is nothing really significantly different in a normal, average, successful operation and an accident.”
Meanwhile, Colonel Lyle E. Alexander, Chairman of the Port Authority of T&T says the future of risk management is dependent on companies becoming more encompassing and global in their learning, customer service, communications, medical responsibility, training (especially the soft skills) and with scenario planning and drills.
“What this pandemic has taught us is the risks that we face now literally can come from left field. There is no normal anymore and we are not going to go back to normal. So, we have to be constantly thinking if we want to achieve these business objectives, what are the possibilities and likely challenges that we will face down the road? Can we scenario them, and where possible, drill them?”
He says the Security Manager of the future needs to be more business-focused and solution-driven, creative and flexible, and consider taking the enterprise security risk management approach which uses risk-management principles to manage security-related risks across an enterprise.
In this period of COVID-19, he advises companies to establish a risk committee that is made up of all the necessary areas of the business, ensure that cybersecurity is a priority with so many people working at home, and not to take for granted the human component of the business i.e. their employees.
The “Navigating The Pandemic: The Usefulness of Risk Management” is one of a series of webinars that was envisaged and designed by the AMCHAM T&T HSE Committee to provide the necessary tools to help companies adjust to the disruption caused to business by the COVID-19 pandemic. 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.
For further questions or comments please contact: Nirad Tewarie, CEO AMCHAM T&T at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AMCHAM T&T Supports Navigating HR & IR Issues During the Pandemic
Navigating Human Resource Management strategies and Industrial Relations practices will be essential for business operations once work restrictions are lifted due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
In a Webinar hosted by AMCHAM T&T on “Navigating HR & IR Issues During the Pandemic", Chief Executive Officer, Nirad Tewarie, said, "Business will have to address both the legal obligations of employers on issues relating to employee leave, employer’s obligation with work from home policies and best practice on how companies can engage with their unions and employees during this period.”
“It’s important that companies employ compassionate solutions that will help them to effectively engage with their employees so that their concerns are addressed while maintaining business continuity during these uncertain times.”
Catherine Ramnarine, Partner - M. Hamel Smith & Co said the Covid-19 pandemic has presented new challenges for employers particularly as it relates to H/R policies on sick leave, working from home, and dealing with a downturn in business. “Much of our employment requirements are determined, not by legislation or regulation, but by the principles of ‘good industrial relations practice’. These principles are not codified, but instead must be gleaned from decisions of our Industrial Court.”
Even though the legislative provisions governing sick leave in Trinidad and Tobago are limited, Ramnarine says employers should check the employment contracts, policies, and collective agreements. “In the current situation, good industrial relations practice may require employers to apply those provisions more flexibly, reasonably and compassionately than they would during normal business operations,” she said.
Meanwhile, quarantine leave or time off to stay home with children may not expressly qualify as ‘sick leave’ under the employment contract, policy, or collective agreement. “It is likely to be considered a breach of good industrial relations practice to penalise employees by non-payment of salary - at least in the short term if an employee is mandated or recommended by health officials to stay away from work,” says Ramnarine.
With regard to the controversial issue of Pandemic Leave, Ramnarine says, “there is no express legal obligation on employers to provide pandemic leave. However, employers do still have a general obligation to treat with requests for leave, flexibly, reasonably and compassionately, while balancing the operational, business and financial challenges of the current situation.”
When dealing with the downturn in business from the COVID-19 pandemic, employers should ideally consult with its employees and obtain their agreement to utilise their vacation leave. “Alternatives like the utilisation of vacation leave should be considered before implementing more drastic measures such as salary cuts and a reduction in paid working hours.”
“The unilateral imposition of no-pay leave MAY be considered a repudiatory breach of the employment contract and conduct deemed to be harsh, oppressive or contrary to the principles of good industrial relations practice. However, the Industrial Court has recognised temporary lay-offs as a valid industrial relations practice."
Ian John, CEO of Massy Technologies InfoCom says businesses must look beyond performance management and pay more attention to productivity. “So, we are now in the era where we are no longer managing staff’s time, as we say performance is not managing staff time but how do we manage productivity.”
“Many managers in organizations are finding out, holding an employee accountable/responsible for a set of deliverables but the set of deliverables that this employee has to deliver is based on a set of inputs, factors, variables, some of which may no longer be available to that employee given the current situation.”
John says companies must ensure that employees who are working from home are provided with the required IT infrastructure, HSE regulations, documented policies and processes and clear expectations of what is required of them during this situation.
Teresa White, Group HR Director - ANSA McAL Limited spoke about her Group’s plans and policies that were implemented following the first reported case of COVID-19 in T&T.
She said ANSA McAL implemented work from home policies for all their non-essential staff and issued a clear set of deliverables and expectations. She advised that any performance managing work from home policy should be clearly articulated with established rules and expectations and have a performance objective-setting and assessment measures.
During the period where employees were working from home, she said meetings were set up between the ANSA McAL leadership team and the union executives, and the communication channels were open between the executive team and employees. She noted that the Group had also ramped up its Corporate Social Responsibility activities. “We are aware of the fact that ANSA McAL is a major private sector profit generator and, therefore, we have an obligation to our communities to provide support where we can at this time.”
The “Navigating HR & IR Issues During the Pandemic” is one of a series of webinars that was envisaged and designed by AMCHAM T&T, as a means to provide the necessary tools to help companies adjust to the disruption caused to business by the global pandemic. 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 Celebrates International Girls in ICT Day 2020
The American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago (AMCHAM T&T) partnered with the NGO, Restore a Sense of I Can (RSC) to host several Break Out Sessions for the “Girls in ICT Day” Virtual Conference.
This event was part of T&T’s activities to commemorate the International Girls in ICT Day 2020 which is celebrated annually on the fourth Thursday of the month of April. This is a global movement to encourage and empower girls and young women to consider studies and careers in ICTs. Since 2011, more than 362 000 girls and young women have taken part in more than 11 000 celebrations in 171 countries worldwide.
Today’s event attracted over 1600 participants from several countries across the Caribbean and South America who came together to engage in online discussions to provide increasing opportunities for continued education and jobs in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
Originally scheduled as a live event, the COVID-19 global pandemic forced organizers to transform their activities into virtual events. For this event, AMCHAM T&T assisted by providing the platform for hosting the event as well as arranging for several female professionals to host sessions on careers in tech. The shift to virtual events such as this shows the increasing role of technology in the post-COVID 19 future
Patricia Ghany, President of AMCHAM T&T spoke about the important link between promoting gender parity and advancing our nation’s tech sector. “For us at AMCHAM T&T, we see these two issues as intersectional in creating the kind of society that we want and that allows us to participate effectively in global value chains. By this, I mean if we are to develop our nation’s tech sector, we cannot do this without addressing the gaps that keep girls and women from achieving parity,” said Ghany.
“When we increase the educational opportunities in ICT for girls and women, and develop a more gender-balanced tech sector, we are lifting women out of poverty by offering them opportunities for jobs and access to move up the career ladder quicker in their respective fields.”
AMCHAM T&T is proud to have collaborated on the RSC’s “Girls in ICT Day” virtual conference as we see this as another avenue to push towards digital transformation. Countries and businesses need to invest more to digitally transform the way they do business if only to meet the changing demands posed from a post COVID-19 world.
Last year we hosted our nation’s first-ever Tech Hubs Islands Summit (this) Conference. Hosting this conference was an opportunity for us to encourage the private and public sector to infuse tech into their business processes to increase their competitiveness and attract both local and foreign investment. We believe a meaningful, dynamic tech industry could change the essence of how we live, work, and play in T&T, which is why we are strongly committed to advancing our nation’s tech sector.
AMCHAM T&T invited several prominent and influential women, both locally and internationally, to speak at the “Girls in ICT Day" conference and lead many of the Break Out Sessions:
AMCHAM T&T would like to thank these women for their contributions to this event and particularly to Mr. Raj Ramdass and his entire team at the Restore a Sense of I Can (RSC) for hosting this very important conference.
For further questions or comments please contact: Nirad Tewarie, CEO AMCHAM T&T at email@example.com
Joint Chamber Media Release - The Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Local Businesses and the Wider Society
The Joint Chambers (AMCHAM T&T, Energy Chamber of T&T, T&T Chamber of Industry & Commerce & T&T Manufacturers’ Association) along with the Confederation of Regional Chambers held a meeting on Monday 6th April 2020 to discuss the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on local businesses and the wider society. Several initiatives already announced by the Government were discussed and the members of the group expressed appreciation for the support facilitated by the Government. However, the need for implementation around several of these announcements was also highlighted.
Members of the group acknowledged the unprecedented nature of the crisis facing the world and the complexity of dealing with the fallout.
Following the meeting, the group agreed that the following five items will be critical in the immediate term.
1. With the majority of businesses suffering from a near total collapse of sales and therefore thousands of individuals facing a fall in income, we appeal to the Government to support the retention of employment through a tax credit on salaries for companies who realise no profits during this period. We propose that, for each employee that the registered businesses keep on their payroll through the next three months (i.e. April – June 2020), the government grants an additional tax credit (of between 100% - 150%) of the first $6000 of the employee’s salary. This tax credit can be applied proportionally over a three year period starting Q3 2020.
2. We propose that the Government extends income support to the self-employed and their employees in the “informal” sector. We recommend this support for the “informal” business owners and their employees at minimum, under the same terms as the salary relief grant to retrenched employees, once these businesses and their employees register with the BIR.
Unregistered businesses could be encouraged to register, possibly through their regional corporations, with the understanding that they will be forgiven for past non-payment of taxes but will be required to pay going forward. Such a move will widen the tax net and assist with the rebuilding of Government revenue once business and social activity return to some level of normalcy.
3. Based on the substantial excess funds both US$ and TT$ in the banking system, there is an opportunity for GORTT to mobilize these funds and launch a National Recovery Fund denominated in both currencies. Any business or citizen can make a contribution, however small.
There should be some form of incentive by way of deduction for tax purposes over the next 5-10 years at 150%. Ideally, it should not be structured in the form of debt, so as not to impact GORTT borrowing limits and debt ratios. This Fund must be kept separate from other funds and overseen by a Board made up of reputable private sector and government representatives. It should be used to improve the ease of doing business and for employment generating activities.
4. While we understand that this is a tricky issue and directly impacts the Government’s cash flow and therefore ability to cushion the fallout to all sectors of society, we ask Government to still consider a deferral of corporation tax and value added tax payments for the upcoming period through June 2020. We believe the temporary cash flow interruption to Government can be managed, in light of the HSF withdrawal and the realisation of virtually budgeted corporation tax receipts in Q1 2020. We also ask for a waiver of penalty interest for late payment of same for Q1 and Q2 of 2020.
The business groups are however, appealing to all businesses – large and small - that are able to make these tax payments during this period, to do so. We expect all businesses to continue payment of NIS and Health Surcharge.
5. Clarity needs to be given on the education system going forward. The Chambers call on the Government to design, clearly communicate and implement a plan to ensure that teaching and learning can resume after April 20th, 2020. The Chambers are willing to work with their members to explore means of supporting this effort.
We also commend the many companies who are already doing what they can to minimise the disruption of education. We highlight companies such as TSL and Atlantic for making the Pennacool system more widely available and the myriad of technology companies and service providers who are assisting with implementation of online learning solutions. However, we acknowledge that not every school and certainly not every child will have access to technologically-enabled education and reiterate our willingness to support the education system in bridging these gaps to the extent possible.
While we recognise that these measures are but a small part of what needs to be done to bring stability and then get to recovery, we do hope that the Government will consider and implement these measures as we believe they will go a long way in building trust and confidence and give business some minor, but needed relief in the current, very difficult environment.
Managing Mental Health And Wellness During Covid-19
The American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago (AMCHAM T&T) hosted a WEBINAR session on the topic “Managing Mental Health & Wellness” during the COVID-19 global pandemic on Friday 3rd April, 2020.
This particular webinar is one of a series that has been envisaged and designed by the AMCHAM T&T HSE Committee, as a means to engage with our membership and the wider public, and to provide the necessary tools to help companies create safe working conditions for their employees during this pandemic.
AMCHAM T&T CEO, Nirad Tewarie stated “As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps across the world, one issue facing each and every one of us is how to manage and react to a situation that brings a lot of stress and anxiety where the coping mechanisms are still being developed due to isolation measures that interrupt our usual social activity – and those range of course from mental health to how do we cope economically.”
“Health and Safety during these times have become even more important as we seek to protect both our physical health and psychological well-being in this crisis.”
“Until we achieve the objective of slowing the spread of the virus and containing it, we are not going to get back to any kind of normalcy, whether that be economic normalcy or social normalcy. The thing that we can do most to help is to try and limit our interactions with others and adhere to the government’s request for social distancing.”
In his presentation, Anthony Watkins, CEO of Odyssey Consulting Limited also warned that there will be major disruptions to people’s lives on all dimensions i.e. spiritual, physical, mental, social, economic and financial during the ongoing pandemic. “Many people experience themselves as their jobs. People own their job titles. People have a kind of predictability and a sense of who they are based on the work that they do. Well for many that is going to change, and it has changed.”
“People who will be out of work or on restricted incomes and who may have to pay for health care and other kinds of things in a scenario where the economy heaves in a downturn, jobs are at risk, and things are slow,” he said. “That can be a major source of disruption.”
He further went on to say that during these times we will see a range of things happening to people. “Some people are going to get quiet. Fear is going turn into fury and what may be a little moodiness may become deep depression and we may see people who in normal times be questioning and curious and challenging but that can easily shift and become blaming and shaming of other people.”
To adjust to this new reality, “we will have to accept that people will respond and react in all kinds of ways, but we will come through it,” he says. To do this he maintains that society will have to frame the experience in a different way. This means changing the way we look at the world and the work that we do and ensure that we manage ourselves in the present.
“For many organizations, it was the bottom line, the first-quarter results and the annual results, strategic plans, and direction. Where are all those things now? How do we recalibrate? What is the balance that we have to re-establish around that? And this is an opportunity to go there? How do we relate and engage with the staff and our co-workers?”
Meanwhile, Dr. Ishvan Ramcharitar, Chief Medical Advisor at Atlantic says his company has done scenario planning which assumes that there would be approximately 25% absenteeism of staff during a pandemic, as some persons or their families will get the virus and be unable to work. “Four key areas we look at is: strengthening your health barriers, scenario-based planning, communication with stakeholders and implementation of remote working.”
He advises companies to look at each level of their response and “work out what the scenario is and what the potential risks are for people and the business, and what the response would be.”
One of these risks relates to an employee’s mental health from social distancing and work from home policies. He advises that companies ought to develop more training with staff so that they are familiar with new technology as they are working at home and to ensure that they are comfortable. Employees should have a designated workspace, develop a routine and create a schedule, know when to step away from their screens, and encourage video calls and virtual coffee breaks. Employers should create a space to talk about personal challenges, lead with empathy and take a break where necessary.
“If we spend too much energy in the circle of concern - things we have no control over - we ourselves become more anxious. If we focus on our circle of influence – thing we have direct control over – your behaviours, what you can do to prevent the spread of the virus, your handwashing, staying at home, not going to the supermarkets – you focus on that and you automatically feel more empowered,” said Dr. Ramcharitar.
AMCHAM T&T’s CEO, Nirad Tewarie recommended that we should be our brother’s keepers during this time. “Where people interact – and I don’t mean physically interact – but where people help one another, know one another, and work together, the recovery time is faster and the economic and social impact is lower in times of crisis and disaster. It also helps to reduce crime.”
The AMCHAM T&T HSE Committee is one of the largest and most active committees at AMCHAM T&T, having implemented the region’s largest HSSE Conference for the past 24 years. The Committee is currently led by Cindi Nandlal, HSE manager at Point Lisas Nitrogen Ltd. and is comprised of HSE professionals across a range of sectors. This was one of a series of webinars that will be hosted by the organisation to assist members and the wider business community work through this challenging time.
Joint Chamber Media Release - Labor Minister's Response to COVID-19 Work Policy
The Joint Chambers (AMCHAM T&T, TT Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the Energy Chamber and the TT Manufacturers’ Association) fully support the sentiments expressed at this morning’s press conference by the Minister of Labour, Small and Micro Enterprises. We commend the Minister and the Government for taking proactive steps to address this unprecedented threat to the people of Trinidad & Tobago.
The Joint Chambers fully support the calls from the Minister of Labour for all employers to put in place measures to encourage home working wherever possible. Many of our member companies have already instituted home working policies and other measures to promote social distancing and intensified hygiene controls in the workplace. We encourage all citizens to take these measures very seriously. Lives depend on it.
The Joint Chambers have noted the guidelines proposed by the Minister of Labour. We look forward to discussing the details of these guidelines with the Government and Trade Union representatives at the National Tripartite Advisory Council (NTAC) in the coming days. We support the call of the Minister of Labour for all employers to be compassionate and to, as far as reasonably possible, grant appropriate leave to employees with unexpected childcare obligations and any employee who needs to be self isolated. The specific form of leave will need to be discussed by employers and employees and in some cases their representatives, taking into account the specific circumstances of each company and each case.
These measures will inevitably have significant effects on the economy and on private sector companies, at a time when intense forex shortages and crippling low commodity prices already have the economy under significant strain. Many companies, in particular small businesses, will find it very difficult to meet payroll costs in a time when their revenue will be under unprecedented pressure. Urgent measures will need to be put in place to help businesses through this very difficult period. The Joint Chambers look forward to discussing these measures further with the Government and other stakeholders.
AMCHAM T&T Calls for Re-Evaluation of the Education System
(Winners of the AMCHAM T&T's National Youth Productivity Forum (NYPF) 2020 Finals)
The American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago (AMCHAM T&T) is calling for the education system to do more with non-traditional learners. At the closing ceremony of the 11th Annual National Youth Productivity Forum (NYPF), AMCHAM T&T CEO, Nirad Tewarie said the time has come for our nation to re-evaluate the role of education, schools and teachers in our society.
“I personally acknowledge that the role of teachers has been undervalued in the system and society for too long. But with that has come a narrowing of the understanding of what it means to be a teacher,” he said.
“Based on the way society has been constructed, both society in general as well as too many teachers see their role in a narrow manner and this needs to be revisited. We need to do what is necessary to ensure that the teaching profession is once again one of the most valued professions in the society.
“We really hope that a significant conversation could be started between TUTTA, the business community, the Ministry and the government, and civil society about how we educate and why we educate, and therefore what is the role of the educator, both the role of the formal teacher and the informal teacher. This is wider than the role of technology in the classroom and in wider society."
He also advocated for leaders to start doing a better job of dealing with students who are more inclined towards non-traditional learning as opposed to academics, in order to assess the true value of students. “NYPF is trying to create an avenue for non-traditional learners to be able to express themselves, so we encourage students to present information through drama, music and art because education is bigger than just transferring information from a textbook or internet to a notebook or to a test.”
More than 120 students from 24 schools - from Scarborough to Moruga - participated in this year’s NYPF to enhance discussions on the theme “An aging population and pension security… towards a more productive T&T” from a labour, business, government and civil society perspective.
Following intense competition through five discussion rounds, the victorious schools were, Presentation College, Chaguanas (Labour), Cowen Hamilton Secondary School (Business), Vessigny Secondary School (Government) and ASJA Girls’ College, San Fernando (Civil Society). Also, Woodbrook Secondary School was awarded as the project component winner.
Tewarie said in 2018 there was a five percent decline in our labour force participation rate which is linked to the economy and the education system’s inability to adequately deal with non-traditional learners, thereby increasing the urgency of reforming the system to more effectively unlock the potential of non-traditional learners, many of whom leave the formal education system before completing high school.
The NYPF 2020 was supported by title sponsor, First Citizens’ Bank. AMCHAM T&T also partnered with The University of Trinidad and Tobago and The National Insurance Board of Trinidad and Tobago. Winning students were awarded $1000 cash in First Citizens’ Neo Accounts and internships at AMCHAM T&T’s membership companies while the winning school project resulted in the school, Woodbrook Secondary receiving a cheque for $5,000 and the teacher who worked with the students on the project, being awarded $3,000. The Hugh L Howard Prize for Critical Thinking was awarded to Presentation College Chaguanas, with that student receiving $1,500.
For further questions or comments please contact: Nirad Tewarie, CEO AMCHAM T&T at firstname.lastname@example.org or 728-8274
AMCHAM T&T Welcomes Government’s Progress on Critical Matters
AMCHAM T&T welcomes Trinidad and Tobago’s removal on the grey list by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) which has concluded that T&T would no longer be subjected to active monitoring.
Although we maintain that there was no need for our country to ever end up on the “grey list”, we take this opportunity to congratulate the Government and, the Attorney General’s Office in particular, for spearheading and implementing the regulatory and legislative measures required to achieve this milestone.
As the largest economy in the English-speaking Caribbean with the strongest financial sector, we must ensure that our regulatory environment is efficient, modern and robust. The measures taken to get enhance our FATF compliance are a significant step in this direction.
We note also that this announcement comes less than two weeks after the full proclamation of the Fair Trading Act (FTA). The coming into force of the FTA is another extremely positive step to enhancing the regulatory environment by providing a more robust framework for fair competition and therefore for new, sometimes smaller entrants equal access to the market.
We have, in the past, lamented the lack of alacrity in the passage legislation to enhance efficiency in the country. While there is more to be done, we would like to say kudos to the Government in these two instances.
We look forward to the passage of the Tax Information Exchange Bills within the next week since both Government and Opposition have signaled their intent to support. This legislation is critical to having the country removed from the EU list of non co-operative tax jurisdictions and therefore safeguard the ability of the local banking system to conduct international business. It will also allow individual companies to more effectively do business in T&T by reducing the cost and administrative burdens of doing business in our country, thereby increasing our attractiveness if done in tandem with other measures to improve the ease of doing business.
In addition, we look forward to the materialization of the Government’s commitment to pass the Public Procurement Legislation before the end of March 2020; the laying of the Beverage Container Bill and the introduction of legislation to operationalize the T&T Revenue Authority, that are both reflective of the concerns of all stakeholders.
U.S. Deputy Assistant Energy Secretary for Oil and Natural Gas discusses U.S. Energy with AMCHAM T&T Board
(Meeting with U.S. Energy Department Official (l-r) Matt Ciesielski, AMCHAM T&T Director, Karrian Hepburn, AMCHAM T&T Director, Nirad Tewarie, AMCHAM T&T CEO, Shawn Bennett, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oil and Natural Gas, U.S. Energy Department, Patricia Ghany, AMCHAM T&T President, Nicholas Galt, AMCHAM T&T Director, and Stuart Franco, CEO, The T.S.L. Group.)
Shawn Bennett, U.S. Deputy Assistant Energy Secretary for Oil and Natural Gas, held a meeting with members of the Board of the American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad & Tobago (AMCHAM T&T), on Monday 3rd February 2020 at the AMCHAM T&T building in Newtown.
The meeting primarily focused on the impact of the US becoming a major gas exporter and the structural changes to the industry as a result. DAS Bennet emphasized that the US Administration would like to work collaboratively with T&T even as the private sectors in both countries compete in the market.
He further gave some suggestions on how AMCHAM T&T might play a role in exposing Independent Producers in the US to potential opportunities in the onshore oil and gas sector in Trinidad.
Currently, the U.S. is T&T’s largest trading partner, providing 28% of its imports and accepting 48% of its exports.
Patricia Ghany, President of AMCHAM T&T welcomed the exchange of ideas and business interests with the Deputy Assistant Secretary. “We are grateful to have been paid this special visit with such a high-ranking member of the U.S. Energy Department. Our continued engagement with the U.S. remains vital for our long-term growth and development.”
At the US Energy Department, DAS Bennet administers oil and gas programs, including research and development, analysis, and natural gas regulation. He has more than a decade of experience in public affairs and government relations in the coal and the oil and gas industries. Most recently, he served as the Executive Vice President for the Ohio Oil and Gas Association (OOGA), a non-profit trade association that is dedicated to representing Ohio oil and gas producers. His role at OOGA included overseeing all U.S. federal and state legislative and regulatory activities in Columbus, OH and Washington D.C.
AMCHAM T&T Signs ARISE MoU with UNDRR
The American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago (AMCHAM T&T) signed an agreement with The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) to support the Private Sector Alliance for Resilient Societies (ARISE) project initiative.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed today by Nirad Tewarie, CEO of AMCHAM T&T and Mariana Guzmán Vargas, Public Private Partnership Advisor for the UNDRR at the 23rd Annual Health, Safety, Security and the Environment (HSSE) Conference and Exhibition hosted by AMCHAM T&T at the Hyatt, Regency.
AMCHAM T&T CEO Nirad Tewarie shakes hands with Mariana Guzmán Vargas, Public Private Partnership Advisor for the UNDRR. Also pictured is Sabine Kast- Director, International Programs at Miyamoto International, a speaker at this year's HSSE Conference.
ARISE is a private sector initiative, which in conjunction with the UNDRR, works towards a resilient, prosperous future where fewer lives are lost to disasters; capital assets and investments are risk-informed; and infrastructure is resilient to natural and man-made hazards.
Citing the damage and destruction caused by recent natural disasters and inclement weather patterns to affect Trinidad and Tobago, Patricia Ghany, President of AMCHAM T&T said in her opening remarks, “Our nation needs a comprehensive disaster resiliency plan that integrates climate change considerations into priority sectors to allow for the appropriate interventions.”
“While the greatest facet of our humanity often emerges in these perilous times it goes without saying that the relief from natural disasters should not be left solely to the charitable acts from private citizens and companies,” Ghany said.
Mariana Guzmán Vargas, Public Private Partnership Advisor for the UNDRR said “With AMCHAM T&T as the national network for ARISE in T&T we are now able to develop new capacities towards accessing disaster risk management and to create action plans to implement tangible projects according to the Sendai Framework which is the connective tissue that can allow us to enhance resilience towards disaster and help us towards achieving the SDGs.”
The MoU is a joint venture between AMCHAM T&T, the UNDRR, the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) and the Caribbean Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).
By signing this document, the Parties will be responsible for the implementation of the National ARISE Network in Trinidad and Tobago which would perform the following activities:
AMCHAM T&T will provide the coordination mechanism link between the UNDRR Regional Office for the Americas and the global ARISE initiative and in coordination with the ODPM and CDEMA will facilitate the scaling up of initiatives and impacts at the regional level. The ODPM as coordinator of the national emergency management system in Trinidad and Tobago, of which AMCHAM T&T is a valued stakeholder, will encourage the continued strengthening of disaster risk management capacities in the local private sector.
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