Sunday 18 February, 2018

Rambharat: Private sector needed to drive economy

Minister of Agriculture, Lands and Fisheries, Clarence Rambharat, said closer attention needs to be placed on the management of cash flows and the "expense side of things" as the country's economic challenges continue to present unique opportunities to systematically contain expenditure.

Speaking at the Cunupia Business Chamber's Annual Dinner and Awards Function in Chaguanas on Saturday, January 13, Rambharat said some challenges include a structure that is "inefficient" and "bureaucratic" in nature.

He said successive Governments have not been able to yield significant returns on its many programme investments since these initiatives were "either duplicated; unnecessary; unproductive; managed by persons who lacked the skills, vision and motivation necessary to get the job done and; operated within a structure that seemed ineffective, inefficient and bureaucratic in nature".

The Minister also blamed this latter dilemma on what he cited as a "complete reliance on Government by the public with little or no regard for the integral role which the private sector can and must play in the sustainable development of the country".

He said that there were too many government programmes which failed to measure up to their investments as they essentially pushed out the space which the private sector ought to have legitimately occupied.

"We have found ourselves in a position where the private sector is almost unseen in a lot of activities in the country as Government has controlled the spending and is totally relied upon to make things happen in the country when the fact is that properly-run countries are those in which Governments develop long-term policies; facilitate private sector development and the development of people with the private sector driving the economy."

"In many cases, Ministries have not paid certain bills since June 2017 and of course, if businesses employ people and are not getting the requisite cash flows to pay their own bills, the economy just cannot move. So it not only affects the Government but has impacted the private sector severely and unless the Government reduces its indebtedness to the private sector, we will not see any movement in the economy," Rambharat said.

In his address, President of the Cunupia Business Chamber, Rasheed Ali, reflected on the Chamber's work over the past year particularly as it involved its input in: the alleviation of traffic woes in the area; philanthropic aid to hurricane/natural disaster victims; collaborative talks with both the Ministry of Trade and Industry and other Business Chambers and; minimizing the nation's dependence on the imports of foreign food produce.

Also speaking at the event was the President of the Chaguanas Business Chamber, Vishnu Charran, who welcomed the Cunupia Business Chamber to its fold and invited the entity to "extend its horizons" by forging a possible trading relationship with Cuba.

The event which marked the first of its kind for the Chamber - formerly referred to as the Cunupia Business Association since 2007 - was attended by its Executive and membership.

Present at the event was the Chief Executive Officer of the Powerful Ladies of Trinidad and Tobago (PLOTT), Gillian Wall, as well as the former President of the Chaguanas Business Chamber, Billy Ali, who served as the event's chairperson.