President of the Chaguanas Chamber of Industry and Commerce (CCIC), Richie Sookhai, as he spoke with Guardian Media at Sookhai's Diesel Service at Biljah Road, Chaguanas, on New Year’s Eve. (Image: SHASTRI BOODAN)

SHASTRI BOODAN

President of the Chaguanas Chamber of Industry and Commerce (CCIC), Richie Sookhai, is cautiously optimistic that the new year should be better than 2021.

“Given the state of the economy and the proposed injection from the oil and gas sector, definitely we will see a better year going forward,” Sookhai said as he spoke with Guardian Media on New Year’s Eve.

“However, we hope that these monies are used in a sustainable way, away from the oil and gas sector,” he added.

Sookhai believes T&T should start looking at other ways to diversify its economic portfolio into areas such as food and drugs, music and tourism. He said with a public-private sector initiative this can happen.

In 2022, the CCIC hopes to work with the authorities to ease the traffic congestion in Chaguanas.  Sookhai said because of traffic flow, businesses on the eastern side of the borough are doing better.

“Businesses on the western side are losing 60 to 70 percent of business that traditionally comes from the north,” he explained. 

Sookhai said the time has also come for the National Flour Mills (NFM) to start looking at another alternative besides wheat for flour, noting that many small food vendors would be impacted by the raise in flour prices.

“It’s about time that NFM look at diversifying their portfolio and look at alternate sources of raw materials, such as cassava,” Sookhai said.  

“It’s about time we look at cassava flour which is a healthier option,” he added, pointing out that NFM should also look at incentives for farmers to produce more cassava.