Minister of Public Administration and Digital Transformation Allyson West said yesterday the government has acknowledged the different views regarding the privatisation of the Port-of-Spain port but will be guided by a report of the Cabinet-appointed committee.
“We have mixed views on how the government treats with different operations. Some people think the government should not privatize anything and there are some people who are of the view that government should not be involved in anything business-related. So what we are trying to do is arrive at a position that gives the people of Trinidad and Tobago the best option,” she said.
She continued: “We currently have a port that is operating inefficiently which affects every individual in Trinidad and Tobago because for example, our food import bill is high because it means a lot of our food is imported. If it is imported in circumstances where the clearance to the port is inefficient, the persons importing the food are going to pass on that increased cost caused by the inefficiency at the port to the consumers. So every individual in Trinidad and Tobago has an interest in ensuring that we are operating an efficient port system.”
The committee is set to meet with the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers Association, the Chamber of Industry and Commerce and American Chamber of Commerce, custom brokers, the Bureau of Standards, the Ministry of Trade, the Environmental Management Authority and the Ministry of Finance.
The committee comprises four ministers – the Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan, Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon, Minister of Finance Colm Imbert and Minister West.
It also includes officials from the Ministry of Works, the Port Authority, the Seamen and Waterfront Workers Trade Union, the Shipping Association of Trinidad and Tobago, the Manufacturers Association, and the Chamber of Industry and Commerce.
It will submit a report to Cabinet in two weeks.
Meanwhile Minister West maintained that former Shell vice-president Derek Hudson’s past experience as chairman of the port validates his involvement in the talks, in response to concerns raised by the Opposition.
“Derek Hudson was chairman of the port during the period when it was last profitable, up to 2010-2011, so he has knowledge of the operations of the Port and we think he has a role to play and a contribution to make in the operations of this committee,” West said.