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Updated: 8 min 2 sec ago

GHL gives up $0.65

14 hours 43 min ago

Overall Market activity resulted from trading in 15 securities of which 3 advanced, 6 declined and 6 traded firm.

Trading activity on the First Tier Market registered a volume of 381,687 shares crossing the floor of the Exchange valued at $1,583,236.84. National Flour Mills was the volume leader with 318,544 shares changing hands for a value of $637,088.00, followed by GraceKennedy with a volume of 21,000 shares being traded for $59,917.13. Scotia Investments Jamaica contributed 10,000 shares with a value of $22,500.00, while Guardian Holdings added 10,000 shares valued at $150,000.00.

Scotiabank T&T registered the day’s largest gain, increasing $0.03 to end the day at $58.03.

Conversely, Guardian Holdings registered the day’s largest decline, falling $0.65 to close at $15.00.

The Mutual Fund Market did not record any activity.

ECA chairman clarifies position

Thu, 09/21/2017 - 22:00

Raphael John-Lall

Individual employers will make decisions on whether they would retrench employees or not said Keston Nancoo, Chairman, Employers' Consultative Association (ECA).

“We have members who operate across different industries and different requirements. A lot of them require foreign exchange to conduct their business. With the challenges associated with securing foreign exchange there would be an impact on head count,” he told the Guardian by phone yesterday.

Nancoo's response comes in light of statements made to the media on Wednesday at a news conference following a meeting of the Nattional Tripartite Advisory Council (NTAC) concerning the Government's position on a moratorium on the retrenchment of workers.

He made it clear that he had no discussions with any employer or business chambers on the topic of retrenchment in the private sector and statements he did make was not an “official position.”

Nancoo also said that the service industry has been affected because of a drop in disposable income in the market.

“Businesses are not able to conduct business at the level they were able to. As a consequence that will impact head count. To say that there would be no retrenchment in the private sector would be getting ahead of myself.”

Gabriel Faria, CEO, T&T Business Chamber also spoke to the Guardian yesterday and said that businesses owners will take the necessary measures to safeguard their businesses and employees as long as they can.

“No business wants to lay off people. When you train employees and have employees as an asset, no business wants to lay off those employees and hire another one.”

He added that because of the economic environment, many businesses have been affected and they need to re-think their business model.

“They need to modernise, they need to change their structure. In order to operate in this new environment they need to do what is necessary. They do not do it with the aim of treating employees badly. The private sector will do its best to keep people employed.”

A statement from the Nirad Tewarie, CEO, AmCham T&T said: “None of us who run or lead business support organisations can speak for individual companies on this matter. Just this week, the US-based iQor spoke of how high worker absenteeism is in their operation here, but pledged to create more jobs. Imagine how many more jobs can be created if productivity and competitiveness are improved. So while some companies will be adding jobs, unfortunately, some companies will be forced to consider all options as they seek to remain competitive.”

He added AmCham T&T continues to encourage investment into T&T and is committed to working with all stakeholders to improve competitiveness as a means of creating more jobs.

Tunapuna Chamber Budget wish: Fix forex distribution

Thu, 09/21/2017 - 22:00

Raphael John-Lall

Nalini Maharaj, President of the Tunapuna Business Chamber said the Chamber has asked the Government to distribute foreign exchange equitably to the business community.

This was one of the proposals they made in their 2017/2018 budget wish list.

“We would like to see a sustainable amount across the board to all businesses and not just to certain businesses being allocated a certain amount. There must be equity across the board,” she told the Guardian yesterday.

She said the Chamber also proposed that the Government invest more aggressively agricultural sector as a way of diversifying the economy.

“The Government can do this by tapping into the resources that we have here and also the technology sector.”

She said the Chamber also asked the Government to step up police activity in the areas where businesses operate.

“I know that we have no control on the crime itself. The Chamber has always asked for more police patrols in the hot spots, more CCTV cameras available that are functional and control of traffic in the area.”

She added that the crime situation in Tunapuna is not as bad as in other areas, but they had at least one crime related incident recently.

“A business member was robbed in the area and the police took a more than an hour to come and of course nothing has come out of it. The police need to step up on the policing and on the response time. Members are now afraid to open their businesses.”

The Chamber also suggested that locals be trained for the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO's) being set up in the country.

“Why do we not utilise our own persons and give them the training required rather than outsourcing to other countries where the language is not the first language of the country?”

She said every year the Chamber “hopes and prays” that the Government would take some of their budget proposals that would benefit their members.

Ratings agency maintains debt rating, keeps negative outlook

Thu, 09/21/2017 - 21:59

Local ratings agency CariCRIS has reaffirmed its ratings of CariAA+ (Foreign and Local Currency Ratings) on its regional rating scale for the USD 500 million notional debt issue of the Government of The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (GORTT).

According to a media release yesterday the company said: "The ratings indicate that the level of creditworthiness of this obligation, adjudged in relation to other obligations in the Caribbean, is high. A CariAA+ rating is an investment grade rating, both on the regional rating scale (CariCRIS’ scale), and on the global rating scale when mapped."

CariCRIS however said that it maintained a "negative outlook" on its sovereign debt rating stating: "Our decision to maintain the negative outlook is based primarily on our expectation that overall fiscal deficits may persist for at least another two years, which will likely lead to further increases in total public sector debt, and our expectation for continued external account deficits, which will likely result in a further decline in gross international reserves and deterioration in the level of import cover."

Scotiabank’s Schnoor heading to Canada

Thu, 09/21/2017 - 00:13

Scotiabank has announced that current managing director of Scotiabank T&T and senior vice president and head of the Caribbean South and East, Anya Schnoor has been promoted to Executive Vice President, Retail Payments, Deposits and Unsecured Lending for Canadian Banking effective November 1, 2017.

In a release on Tuesday Scotiabank T&T chairman Brendan King praised Schnoor for her years of service to the Bank saying: “Anya is a highly-accomplished banking executive with a wealth of financial management experience.”

Noting her contribution to the Bank King added: “She has made significant contributions to our business in the Caribbean and instilled a customer focused mindset with our teams across the 12 islands for which she has held oversight responsibility. Anya is an exceptional leader and we wish her well in her new role.”

Schnoor joined Scotiabank Jamaica in 2006 and in 2012, was installed as senior vice president and managing director of Scotiabank T&T, International Banking and 2016, was given the role of senior vice president and Head, Caribbean South and East, International Banking.

Commenting on her new position, James Sullivan, Group Head, Canadian Banking at Scotiabank said: “We are delighted to welcome MS. Schnoor to the Canadian Banking team.”

He added: “Her deep understanding of the day-to-day customer service experience, along with her appreciation for the bank’s ability to implement innovative new solutions to meet evolving customer needs will serve us well in her new role.”

Also extending congratulations to Schnoor on her new role, the Banker’s Association of T&T described her as “an accomplished banker who has made a significant contribution tot he banking sector

SJBA appeals for improvements to trading process

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 22:00

The San Juan Business Association (SJBA) is appealing to government to initiate discussions with neighbouring countries on how local currency can be incorporated as part of the trading process and possibly even lead to the creation of new trading blocs in the region.

SJBA's Public Relations Officer, Abrahim Ali said they were concerned about foreign exchange being repatriated to Venezuela from T&T.

Revealing some of the SJBA's recommendations ahead of the 2017/2018 budget to be presented on October 2, Ali said their 300 members were generally concerned about crime, improving physical infrastructure and the lack of foreign exchange.

Ali said members were in agreement with the call for new trading blocs to be established, especially with Venezuela.

"If they can initiate discussions with the Venezuelan President for TT dollars to be accepted as part of the trading process, their citizens can purchase goods and services in TT currency and save on the demand for forex which we are seeing daily."

He said, "We want to see a new thinking from our leaders, something that is outside the box."

Ali said the private sector possessed the financial resources to invest in the country but were apprehensive given the current political and economic climate.

He added, "We are asking government to instill in our population, some aspect of confidence that will encourage the private sector to invest freely in the country. Incentives are not only about money."

Ali went on, "They can be extended to areas such as ease of doing business, facilitating foreign trade and even establishing a trading bloc with other Caribbean partners. Government has the power to allow goods and services to be easily exported to other islands with many of the restrictions removed and in this way, it will lead to increased export and even bring in foreign exchange."

World Council of Credit Unions activates Caribbean Relief Fund

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 22:00

BRIDGETOWN – The World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) has activated a Caribbean Relief Fund to support credit unions that have been affected by Hurricane Irma that recently devastated sections of the Caribbean .

According to the WOCCU, there are more than 10,000 active credit union members in Anguilla, Barbuda, Tortola and St. Kitts Nevis – countries that felt the wrath of Irma, the most powerful Atlantic hurricane in recorded history.

Unofficial estimates from the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions, a member of the World Council, indicate that approximately US$1.9 billion may be required for reconstruction in the affected countries.

“It is through these difficult times that out global community comes together to show its strength and reach beyond borders to help those in need,” said Brian Branch, the president and chief executive to WOCCU.

The WOCCU is raising funds through the Worldwide Foundation of Credit Unions, its official gift receiving and grant making arm.

In addition to the Caribbean region, the foundation is raising funds to provide relief for those impacted by storms in the United States.

Over the past four years, the foundation has devlivered approximately US$1 million in aid to credit union organisations affected by natural disasters in the Philippines, Nepal, Ecuador, Malawi and Columbia. (CMC)

Jamaica to host major conference on attracting business to the region

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 22:00

BRIDGETOWN – The Barbados-based Caribbean Export Development says Jamaica will host a major conference later this year to discuss how best to attract more business from international companies to the Caribbean in areas such as call centre operations, website and animation design, and legal and accounting services.

It said that more than 100 industry leaders from the public and private sectors across the region are expected to converge in Jamaica on December 6 for the event.

The first-ever Outsource to the Caribbean Conference (OCC) will be held under the theme “Leveraging the Nearshore Caribbean for Outsourcing Services”.

It is being organised by the Caribbean Export Development in conjunction with the Caribbean Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (CAIPA) and funded by the European Union through the 11th European Development Fund (EDF).

The conference will focus on the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector, specifically “nearshore outsourcing” which involves contracting the operations of specific business processes to third-party service providers in neighbouring or nearby countries.

Executive Director of Caribbean Export, Pamela Coke Hamilton, said that outsourcing business to the Caribbean is beneficial not only to the region but to any international businesses investing here.

“The Caribbean is an excellent place to do business. We have a highly skilled, educated multi-lingual and cost effective labour pool. There is also a flexible work environment and a supportive regulatory framework which allows for low operational costs." (CMC)

NGC president signals challenging 2018

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 21:59

President of the National Gas Company (NGC) Mark Loquan believes that 2018 is likely to be a difficult year for the local energy sector.

"2018 is going to be challenging. The shortfalls in gas are likely to remain as some of the recent investments made in the sector will not immediately resolve all of the gas supply issues" Loquan said, as he delivered the feature address at a luncheon event hosted by the Energy Chamber at Cara Suities, Claxton Bay yesterday.

Loquan's theme, "NGC One Year Later" focused on the measures which have been implemented by the company to secure their current business, as well as the opportunities currently being pursued by NGC to market the T&T Gas Model internationally.

According to Loquan, who spoke in front of an audience made up of major stakeholders in the local energy sector, gas coming onstream from BHP Billiton's Sercan field and bpTT's TROC and Juniper projects, will only result in supporting existing levels of gas supply.

"This is not going to result in increased production, but will improve capacity in the system. It also ensures that we remain in our contractual positions and maintains a level of stability for us" Loquan said.

Touching on the subject of renewable energy use, the NGC president pointed out that across the global energy industry, growth in the use of renewable sources was among the fastest in the sector.

He added that growth in solar and wind energy use was expected to increase fourteen-fold and four-fold respectively beyond 2022

Loquan also stated that innovation was needed in the local energy sector and that national awareness of the sector's contribution to T&T should be far better than what it was.

Unilever falls by $1.15

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 21:59

Overall Market activity resulted from trading in 17 securities of which 6 advanced, 7 declined and 4 traded firm.

Trading activity on the First Tier Market registered a volume of 137,622 shares crossing the floor of the Exchange valued at $2,229,452.61.

Sagicor Financial Corporation was the volume leader with 61,940 shares changing hands for a value of $495,610.00, followed by National Flour Mills with a volume of 16,460 shares being traded for $32,920.00.

One Caribbean Media contributed 11,980 shares with a value of $170,597.20, while Massy Holdings added 10,780 shares valued at $528,220.00.

One Caribbean Media registered the day's largest gain, increasing $0.18 to end the day at $14.24.

Conversely, Unilever registered the day's largest decline, falling $1.15 to close at $49.35.

Clico Investment Fund was the only active security on the Mutual Fund Market, posting a volume of 4,400 shares valued at $91,388.00.

Clico Investment Fund remained at $20.77

IC president: Business, labour must work together

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 22:00

Industrial Court President Deborah Thomas-Felix is appealing for trade union and business leaders to work together to find solutions to current economic problems plaguing T&T.

Thomas-Felix made the call in her annual address at the opening of the 2017/2018 Law Term at the court’s headquarters in Port-of-Spain yesterday morning.

Stating that fostering a meaningful relationship was one of the factors which could stimulate sustained growth in the economy, Thomas-Felix suggested that they put their distrust and differences aside.

“Although at times the relationship between the unions and business may appear to be acrimonious, let us not forget that unions and business have a common purpose, and that purpose is for the business to be successful and profitable so that business owners can make profit and employees can earn wages and have job security,” she said.

She also advised businesses to implement systems which provided for consultation with their employees over work-related issues.

“This is the time to foster more symbiotic labour relationships; the time to encourage discussion on issues at the workplace and it is also the time to adopt a less adversarial approach and foster a more collaborative approach toward problem-solving in the workplace,” Thomas-Felix said.

Thomas-Felix also praised the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) for its decision to return to the National Tripartite Advisory Council after a meeting with Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, last week.

“There is an urgent need for all stakeholders to commit to tripartism where parties-Labour, Business and Government- can engage in genuine, meaningful discussions with a view to arriving at policy prescriptions and solutions that will assist our country in realizing sustainable growth and greater resilience,” she said.

Thomas-Felix spent a considerable portion of her speech dealing with the impact of economic inequality on crime in T&T.

While she admitted that poverty was not the main reason for crime, she stated that the two issues were inextricably linked.

“From an industrial relations perspective, crime has a crippling effect on business and economic development, and there is a need for us as a people, as a nation, to collectively and urgently address the root causes of this crisis and devise mechanisms to protect business owners and workers from these growing incidences of crime,” she said.

Students get a taste of entrepreneurship

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 22:00

Raphael John-Lall

David Stone, Director, Stone Brothers Ltd is hoping that introducing school students to the world of business leads to economic diversification in the future.

“With the current situation in the oil industry, to some it may seem ironic that an energy company like Shell signed on for an entrepreneurship competition as the top sponsor and it shows Shell's dedication in assisting diversification, understanding that overall economic growth is beneficial for all sectors. While oil and by extension Shell is extremely important to T&T's economy, the dependency on the energy sector should be reduced,” he said.

Stone spoke yesterday at the launch of the National Secondary Schools Entrepreneurship Competition (NSSEC) 2017 held at the Central Bank Auditorium, Port-of-Spain.

NSSEC is a business simulation competition using business simulation training and will give students a practical and realistic new venture creation experience.

According to the NSSEC website, the competition will be administered using Innovative Learning Solutions' Marketplace Live (ILS) business simulation.

64 schools are taking part in the competition.

Stone likened this competition to the “Intercol of business” and recounted how he and his brother Christian came up with the idea for the competition.

He said his brother agreed that the competition has a lot of potential and he had been toying with an idea of a National Entrepreneurship School Competition like Intercol but for business students using the business simulation software that he taught at Carlton University while doing his Ph.D.

Jason Julien, the Deputy CEO, Business Generation First Citizens Bank who also spoke at the launch said their brand has been in T&T for 24 years and they have had to be innovative, creative and entrepreneurial and they see the same characteristics in this school competition.

“We must have young people with the mindset that they too can be an entrepreneur. There are so many examples on the global stage of successful entrepreneurs who have transformed the world from the Branson's to Tesla's, there are so many visionaries,” he said.

Energy Chamber CEO: Unions must confront economic realities

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 22:00

Raphael John-Lall

Dr. Dax Driver, CEO of the Energy Chamber and representative of the Joint Chambers' Group agrees with the Industrial Court President Deborah Thomas Felix that there is a need for the trade union movement to modernise the way it operates in the 21st century.

“The trade union movement needs to look at the economic reality of the country at the moment and adjust their entire approach and be involved in the process of not protecting the status quo. That is what I think that they are seeking to do at the moment instead of changing things and building a new future for T&T.”

Thomas-Felix also spoke about the “vexing problem of economic inequality” in T&T in her address yesterday at the opening of the 2017-2018 Law Term.

Commenting on this, Driver said that the country needs public policy to address that issue.

“I am not sure what the role of the Industrial Court is in that regard. I do not see a particular role for an Industrial Court for this. But I agree this is a major issue for the country.”

He said in 2016, a number of chambers started a conversation about the types of reforms needed for the Industrial Court.

“When we consulted our members, some of them made statements saying they were not happy about how the Court was operating. In response to that, the trade union movement demanded that they be held in contempt which actually happened. There was a hearing against Frank Moutett and Gabriel Faria and the T&T Chamber. The case has not been heard again.”

He said that this has a “chilling effect” on communication as many employers are now afraid of saying anything critical of the Industrial Court.

“If there is a reform process then you have to talk about it. Having this contempt case hanging over our heads makes people nervous about talking. I was hoping that the President would have addressed this in her speech and she did not. That needs to be resolved.”

GHL declines for a second day

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 22:00

Overall Market activity resulted from trading in 13 securities of which 3 advanced, 5 declined and 5 traded firm.

Trading activity on the First Tier Market registered a volume of 357,953 shares crossing the floor of the Exchange valued at $4,824,971.30.

Scotia Investments Jamaica was the volume leader with 184,320 shares changing hands for a value of $414,720.00, followed by TTNGL with a volume of 127,315 shares being traded for $2,926,781.22.

Scotiabank Trinidad & Tobago contributed 20,197 shares with a value of $1,171,829.94, while L.J.Williams B added 15,000 shares valued at $11,700.00.

Prestige Holdings registered the day's largest gain, increasing $0.10 to end the day at $10.80.

Conversely, Guardian Holdings registered the day's largest decline, falling $0.10 to close at $16.00.

Clico Investment Fund was the only active security on the Mutual Fund Market, posting a volume of 9,918 shares valued at $205,990.11

Clico Investment Fund advanced by $0.02 to end at $20.77

iQOR executive: Local absenteeism rate unacceptably high

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 22:00

[email protected]

Despite facing the problem of a 20 per cent absenteeism rate in T&T, business process outsourcing provider iQOR is confident that the T&T market remains a lucrative one.

Last Friday, director of operations at iQOR with responsibility for providing customer care for Metro PCS Brian Henderson, as well as John Swain, director of operations at iQOR with responsibility for providing customer service to 1-800-flowers, toured iQOR's new Barataria office facilities along with Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon.

According to Swain the rate of absenteeism in T&T was almost five times greater than what obtained in other territories in which the company operates

"When they (employees) decide not to come to work or don't give the courtesy of a phone call indicating that they are not coming to work, we call that a no call no show. We do see a higher than acceptable rate of those who are absent. We can build into that for scheduling, we can over hire to compensate for it, but when you see the rate at 20 per cent or more compared to projects in the Phillipines that run four per cent, that is a very big differential" Swain said.

In its T&T operations the company employs more than 600 people and stated that it intends to expand by adding a further 200 employees before 2017 ends.

Stating that the slow down in T&T's economy is not a deterrent to doing business here, Swain said: "We are not locked to your economy. The products and services are not based on the T&T economy. The companies iQOR deals with are all international. Part of the appeal is that we are here to contribute to the local economy."

In 2015, iQor announced that it was entering the T&T market with the strategic intention of deepening its nearshore footprint and to create jobs in the local economy.

SBA president: Budget should focus on agriculture, manufacturing

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 22:00

Raphael John-Lall

President of the San Fernando Business Association (SBA) Daphne Bartlett is saying that the Government's biggest emphasis for the upcoming budget should be on the agriculture and manufacturing sectors.

“Immediate diversification plans should be focused on agriculture like rural farming, sheep and goat. We look at the export market and we are talking about hot peppers. We import a lot of milk and we had a solid dairy farming sector in the past. We need to work on that,” she told the Guardian by phone yesterday.

Another proposal made was to restructure social programmes like CEPEP, and divert some of that labour into productive agriculture sector initiatives.

“The Government does not have to spend additional money there as it would have already been allocated to programs such as CEPEP. Many of the things we import, we can employ people to plant those same agriculture products. That does not need to be a five year program, we can do that in three months.”

She also spoke about the cocoa industry and utilizing it to provide employment and spur small businesses who use it as a value chain to make chocolates.

The San Fernando Business Association also wants to focus on the manufacturing sector as a driver of both employment and export.

“We need more emphasis on manufacturing because when you manufacture we prevent the importation of similar products and these same companies can export and get foreign exchange. We also have to encourage more young people to get into manufacturing.”

She said that the public sector companies are too inefficient and the Government has to fix this to stop the wastage, especially when the country is in a recession.

“Look at WASA and other similar companies. They cost tax payers billions every year. There has to be greater productivity. Are we getting our value for money in the public sector? The answer is no.”

According to Bartlett, the tourism sector should also play a greater role in government's diversification efforts going forward.

“Turtles leave as far as Madagascar to come to Trinidad to nestle and lay their eggs. We do have foreigners coming to Grand Riviere to look at the turtles but we can market those in a much bigger way. We also have to upgrade areas where tourists visit.”

NGC CNG rewards CNG converts

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 21:59

NGC CNG has started the distribution of incentives to maxi taxi, taxi, and private school bus owners who have transitioned to CNG.

According to a release from the company, on Wednesday September 6, several drivers who recently converted their vehicles to operate on CNG as their fuel of choice, or bought CNG powered vehicles, were presented with fuel cards by officials of NGC CNG.

The Company is mandated by the Government of T&T to accelerate the use of CNG as a vehicular fuel, as well as increase the number of CNG fuelling points across the country.

Earlier this year NGC CNG offered the following incentives to vehicle owners to encourage them to switch:

- $5000 in free CNG for taxi drivers who convert to CNG

- $30,000 (large maxi) or $20,000 (small maxi) in free CNG for maxi taxi drivers who convert to CNG

- $7,500 in free CNG to registered members of the Private School Transport Association of Trinidad and Tobago (PSTATT) who convert to CNG

- $15,000 in free CNG to registered members of the Private School Transport Association of Trinidad and Tobago (PSTATT) who purchase an OEM CNG vehicle.

The free CNG is being administered via a Scotiabank fuel card.

Drivers in receipt of the incentive simply have to fill up with CNG and then swipe their card at CNG service stations.

At the card handing over ceremony, NGC CNG officials congratulated the first batch of seven recipients.

“This fits in well with the NGC CNG programme. This is different than free CNG conversions, now your vehicle is fuelled by CNG and you don’t have a fuel bill for 1-2 years,” the release said.

GHL gives up $0.10

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 21:59

Overall Market activity resulted from trading in 10 securities of which 2 advanced, 6 declined and 2 traded firm.

Trading activity on the First Tier Market registered a volume of 57,807 shares crossing the floor of the Exchange valued at $463,070.26.

JMMB Group was the volume leader with 27,887 shares changing hands for a value of $36,253.10, followed by NCB Financial Group with a volume of 15,482 shares being traded for $78,958.20.

TTNGL contributed 5,614 shares with a value of $129,120.89, while ANSA Merchant Bank added 4,056 shares valued at $162,240.00.

First Citizens Bank registered the day's largest gain, increasing $0.04 to end the day at $32.00.

Conversely, Guardian Holdings registered the day's largest decline, falling $0.10 to close at $16.10.

Clico Investment Fund was the only active security on the Mutual Fund market, posting a volume of 35,920 shares valued at $745,210.80.

Clico Investment Fund advanced by $0.01 to end at $20.75

AMCHAM to Govt: Intensify diversification efforts

Fri, 09/15/2017 - 22:00

Even with moves underway to diversify T&T's economy away from its dependence on oil and gas, the American Chamber of Commerce in T&T (AMCHAM TT) is concerned this area remains energy-sector driven.

However, they believe this is the opportune time to diversify.

In its submissions for the 2017/2018 budget, AMCHAM TT said, "It is necessary that targets, timelines and responsible agencies be established to ensure that diversification is done by sectors and in such a way that we can flag and do corrective interventions when necessary."

Appealing for more focus to be placed on the ICT Sector, the Chamber said with proper support, government can ensure small and medium enterprises engaged in software design and applications can earn foreign currency for the country.

Challenging government to focus more on the tourism sector, AMCHAM TT said, "There needs to be greater focus on this sector to enable it to meet the demands of the industry when the recession is over. Tourism is a key sector for economic development as it is a fast growing and labour-intensive industry that involves many economic activities."

In terms of stimulating the creative industries, the Chamber recommended government implement measures to incentivise individual and corporate support for artistic endeavours.

Calling for greater support of local agricultural production, AMCHAM TT said agriculture was critical in the fight against poverty and inflation and to facilitate food security.

Stating that this sector can be a significant plug to stem the foreign exchange leakage, AMCHAM TT believes, "If as a country we can switch our manufacturers from importing agricultural supply to using local production, then we would be able to see real growth and sustainability."

Admitting this sector was hampered by a number of supply side constraints, they said once the major issues are addressed, the industry has the potential to make a larger contribution to the country's revenue resources.

They submitted that labour could be sourced from CEPEP and/or URP as needed to provide the necessary boost for the sector.

Championing the need to ensure incentives not only for the small farmer but for large scale farms as they too can impact T&T's food imports, AMCHAM TT said increased mechanisation and the use of technology was needed.

Lobbying for access to state lands as this was one of the major issues affecting this sector, the Chamber applauded government's support of small and medium enterprises.




TSTT claims competitive advantage with iPhone X

Fri, 09/15/2017 - 22:00

[email protected]

One telecommunications provider in T&T is predicting that it would have a competitive advantage over other providers when the Apple iPhone X (pronounced "ten") is introduced to the T&T market for Christmas 2017.

Chevon Wilson, VP, Mobile Services at TSTT said bmobile is the only provider in T&T that is certified by Apple to provide LTE (Long-term Evolution) technology on iPhone devices.

It means that in order for the consumer to "unleash the power of the iPhone X, customers would need to be on our (TSTT's) LTE network or else the phone would be vastly under-utilised" Wilson said

Wilson's comments come as the iPhone X was revealed to the public for the first time on Tuesday at an event at the Steve Jobs Theater at Apple's new Cupertino headquarters.

The device will range in price between US$999 to US$1149.00.

"The price will be high after all custom duties and shipping are factored in, but there are customers that will want to purchase this premium device," Wilson said in emailed responses.

According to Wilson, the price of the phone would not deter TSTT's customer base and as such, the company plans to introduce the iPhone X to T&T, "as soon as it is available," since there is a segment of the T&T market who are already demanding the phone.

"Apple sets release dates for various regions. The first release date in other markets is earmarked for November 2017. We are hopeful of providing it to our customers during the Christmas season" he said

Speaking specifically about the high-end market for TSTT, Wilson noted that high-end devices offer more functionality and better quality than the lower priced ones and, "the trends have shown that customers want better value and quality handsets as handsets are now a way of life for many customers."