The Greater San Fernando Chamber of Commerce President Kiran Singh (Image By Kristian De Silva)

Faris needed for local govt reform

“It’s not a demotion!”

RADHICA DE SILVA

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Now that Faris Al-Rawi is no longer Attorney General, business owners are hopeful that the city’s mega projects and local government reform will be achieved sooner.

Speaking to Guardian Media, president of the Greater San Fernando Chamber of Industry and Commerce Kiran Singh said now that Al-Rawi is no longer AG, he will have more time to spend in his constituency.

“I believe he will be better able to oversee the completion of the San Fernando waterfront project, the Skinner Park upgrade and the completion of the Family Court,” Singh said.

He added, “We hope that the projects continue even though his position has been changed. It could be positive for us as he will have more time to execute these projects in a timely manner. He will have more time to spend with us here in the constituency to ensure that these projects are completed and also to ensure that San Fernando gets the attention it has been sadly lacking for decades.”

Concerning the appointment of Kazim Hosein as Minister of Agriculture, Singh said there were budding hydroponic farmers in and around San Fernando who did not have the capital to expand. 

“As a former Local government minister, we hope Minister Hosein’s new focus would be to develop agriculture including hydroponic farming for people who do not have land space,” he said. Currently, farmers need to have a specific acreage before they could qualify for a farmers badge which grants access to subsidies.

“Hydroponics agriculture should be developed, whether it is on the rooftops of commercial buildings that can utilize solar power and natural weather patterns so we can grow our own stuff and buildings can become self-sustaining,” he added.

Singh noted, “We will want to encourage Minister Hosein to review land lease policies and provide support, especially to young entrepreneurs who don’t have capital.”

He said the private sector can process many varieties of produce and so reduce the food import bill, noting that the Moruga agro-processing facility was underutilized.

“UWI has certificates and diplomas which educate people on agriculture and animal husbandry. We had a vibrant animal livestock industry under Caroni. We can revitalize the cattle industry. Nestle has increased dairy prices so if we can increase the production of these items on the outskirts of the city where there are available acreages, we can monetize it,” Singh added. 

Concerning forecasted fertilizer shortages, Singh said the fertilizers account for 75 per cent of production costs. He said Hosein should also look at countries that utilize traditional farming methods such as crop rotation so that crops can still flourish without an abundance of fertilizers. 

Meanwhile, businessman Derek Smith said Al Rawi has performed credibly as Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister so he was optimistic that he will excel in local government.

“He is a grassroots person and he will perform excellently as Minister of Local Government because local government reform needs his expertise and a lot of the laws need to be put in place for the less fortunate who lives on the street. He will interact with more people. It is not a demotion at all,” Singh said.

He added, “Decentralizing government in these areas need his experience and his communication skills. Sometimes people need to be shifted around so their expertise is shared,” Smith said.

Rather than look at the negatives, Smith said that people should focus on the positives and realize that Al Rawi’s expertise was needed in other areas.