Uber departure a 'wake up call', says new AMCHAM President
Newly elected AMCHAM T&T President Patricia Ghany (left) shares a light moment with outgoing President, Mitchell De Silva (right).
The decision by ridesharing app Uber to cease operations in Trinidad and Tobago after just a year should serve as a wake-up call for this country that there remains work to be done to improve the business climate.
That’s the assessment being made by newly elected President of the American Chamber of Commerce Trinidad and Tobago (AMCHAM T&T) Patricia Ghany who noted that Trinidad and Tobago has been lagging behind its Caribbean counterparts in the area of competitiveness.
Ghany, the 15th President of AMCHAM T&T, was elected at the business chamber’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre on Friday.
In delivering her inaugural address, the new President of the business chamber revealed her vision for bringing about the sustained economic development of Trinidad and Tobago.
The answer to turning around T&T’s business environment, Ghany said, lies in looking to what other nations in the region are doing in terms of tax incentives, fiscal & monetary policies, developing human capacity and improving regulatory environments.
She noted that amendments to the legislative framework and an overhaul of processes would be required to effect that much needed change, because the current environment is not the most attractive investment destination.
“Inefficient processes, outdated legislation, weak institutions, systemic corruption and high levels of both white collar and violent crime are all disincentives to investment.”
“Uber’s decision to withdraw from Trinidad & Tobago should be a major wakeup call.”
In this regard, she pledged AMCHAM T&T’s commitment to lend support to ensure that this country becomes the pathway to the Americas.
Recognising the need for decisive action, Ghany said that with the right national and corporate policies and vision and commitment to execution, this can become a reality.
AMCHAM T&T’s role in this action will see the business chamber continue to forge links with businesses across the Americas to allow other lucrative markets to be opened to member companies.
Another one of Ghany’s goals as President is to work toward gender parity.
The business chamber is no stranger to female leadership as the original architects of AMCHAM T&T were female: Sally Cowell, then US Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago, and Nisha Lau, then GM of FedEx.
Ghany is not the first female to be elected President of the business chamber as Catherine Kumar then Chief Operating Officer of ALGICO, served in the position.
And, in 2014, AMCHAM T&T elected its first male CEO, Nirad Tewarie.
Ghany noted that female board participation has increased in recent time with six of the 16 members of the newly elected board being women. However, she said that in spite of the ratio being better than all similar organisations in T&T, she intends to improve on this during her tenure.
In the area of digital transformation, she said there is need to embrace the technological changes taking place if we are to survive, compete and grow.
“More than that, we need to be part of the healthy disruptions that are happening in the market,” she added.
The new Board will be working closely with its Digital Transformation Committee to develop strategies and provide insights for both the public and private sectors that can assist with digital transformation.
The Committee is headed by Fenwick Reid, Executive Chairman Massy ICT, Zia Paton, Partner PWC, and Devindra Ramnarine, Executive Director & Caribbean Lead, Government and Public Sector Ernst and Young, and is mandated to spearhead efforts in assisting member companies in the process of competing in the digital age.
Ghany takes over from outgoing President Mitchell De Silva and will serve a two-year term.
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