Monday 6 July, 2020

T&T out of recession? Joint Chambers question Govt's announcement

The Couva/Point Lisas, Tunapuna and Sangre Grande Chambers of Commerce are questioning the basis for Government’s announcement that Trinidad and Tobago is out of a recession.

That’s according to a joint statement issued on Friday.

Earlier this week, Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon said Trinidad and Tobago is no longer in a recession as the economy has slightly grown.

However, Tunapuna Chamber President, Surindra Mahraj, said contrary to the revelation, business owners believe the country remains burdened.

 “Only recently, this government declared we were out of a recession period. But the growth is based on oil and gas.

“… on the ground level, in the purses and wallets of the common citizen, the economy is still struggling.”

Meanwhile, the Chambers jointly raised an alarm at the speed at which the Government has brought the Civil Asset Recovery and Management and Unexplained Wealth Bill to Parliament.

The Chambers said the legislation is “invasive” as it seeks to investigate property owners, business persons and others with accumulated wealth on how it was acquired.

Part of the bill also includes the formation of a government agency to control civil asset and management recovery.

The chambers said they do acknowledge the present administration’s drive for transparency within the private economic forces that service the nation. However, they question whether government members would be as forthcoming.

“We would also hope our lawmakers and representatives are willing to be as open with their public and private dealings in the same fervent attitude.”

In light of their concerns, President of the Couva Chamber, Ramchan Rajbal Maraj is calling on the Government to halt any pursuance of the bill until proper consultations are conducted. Maraj has further questioned the impact of the bill on the rights of citizens.

Adding further to the consultation call, head of the Sangre Grande Chamber, Ricardo Mohammed, wants to see the bill before a Joint Select Committee meeting to ensure it serves its purpose for the people of Trinidad and Tobago. He noted that a number of bills which appear before the Parliament often appear to be rushed with mistakes made. Mohammed added that many of the bills have to be amended as a result.

The Tunapuna Chamber President chimed in, saying the bill will only prove more problematic to business owners.

The three Chambers say their full executive boards are willing to meet with government representatives to further clarify the extensive applications of this bill.  

“We also call on the government, in the same vein we must honour your words that you at least listen to ours, and the thousands of families across the country that we must account to,” the statement ended.

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