July 30, 2020: Chief Executive Officer of the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Commerce, Gabriel Faria lamented the lack of collaboration among government, the private sector and trade unions to confront the social and economic challenges brought on by Covid-19.
Speaking at a virtual Governance Week 2020 on Monday, Faria said he hoped for a resumption of tripartite engagement with whichever political party won the general elections, expected this year. The conference was organized by the Caribbean Corporate Governance Institute (CCGI) and comprised participants from Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.
“In Trinidad, we don’t have that level of maturity at the government level, so it creates a disharmony and I think that is part of the challenge we have as a country. I hope elections are soon and I hope after the elections, the government in power, whichever one that is, will be more receptive to working in true collaboration,” he said while speaking on the challenges facing the private sector during Covid-19.
Executive Director of the Barbados International Business Association (BIBA), Carmel Hayne said Barbados’ Prime Minister Mia Mottley engaged with the private sector and trade unions in a social partnership throughout every stage leading up to the partial closing of the economy.
“We came together, and we discussed whether or not we are going to close our borders. The collective decision was no, Barbados will not close our borders….and therefore, the government adhered to our collective decision in that regard,” she said.
Based on the government’s request, the private sector and trade unions also made submissions on what Barbados’ priorities should be over the next 12-18 months.
General Secretary of the National Trade Union Centre (NATUC), Michael Annisette lamented that the tripartite approach involving government, the private sector and trade unions was not adopted to deal with challenges facing Trinidad and Tobago.
“What we had was actually a dictation of you do this, you do that without any involvement of the social partners so there would have been an appreciation of the concerns from a perspective of labor and the business community, “ said Annisette, also the President of the Seamen and Waterfront Workers Trade Union
He added, “So the decisions would have been reflective of the realities that we are facing because both the private sector and trade unions have constituencies which are so critical to the economy and when you exclude those partners in that decision-making process and leaving only for the government to make then, well then that is a prescription for confusion and the fall out that you continue to see in Trinidad and Tobago.”
Faria said many businesses were suffering and several others were sending home workers and shutting their doors.
“The reality is today businesses don’t even have the money to pay their rent, they don’t have the money to pay salaries and businesses are closing, are falling because we don’t have a true collaboration as to how we overcome the current dynamics and it is unfortunate, “ he asserted.
Faies said he has been advocating for five-year old VAT refunds which are critically needed by businesses.
“Those things are impacting aggregate demand, they are impacting confidence, they’re impacting the consumer. All I hope is after elections there will be a fresh engagement and we will move forward positively.”
For further information, please contact:
Kamla Rampersad de Silva,
Chief Executive Officer,
The Caribbean Corporate Governance Institute
Phone: +1 868 221 8707