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Private sector must push growth

Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar centre, shares a photo call at Wednesday’s Sixth Annual Business Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Gala Dinner presented by the T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce. Photo: SEAN NERO

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar is telling local business leaders that government should never be seen or perceived as the main economic driver of an economy. Delivering the feature address at Wednesday’s Sixth Annual Business Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Gala Dinner presented by the T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce, held at the Hyatt Regency in Port-of-Spain, she said government was being called upon to spend more to jump-start the economy, even though Finance Minister Winston Dookeran presented a 2010-2011 fiscal package in Parliament last September, that was the country’s largest ever.

She said: “Many commentators would have posited that the economy is stagnant and the government needs to spend to drive economic activity. Yet, this statement is made against the backdrop of a $49 billion dollar budget. The government plans to spend, and is currently spending, either through current account expenditure, or through the PSIP. However, we will not spend money recklessly, nor will we spend money in projects which we regard as the proverbial “black hole”. Persad-Bissessar was addressing a gathering that included: Chamber president Angella Persad, Trade and Industry Minister Stephen Cadiz, Arthur Lok Jack, chairman Neal and Massy, Kenneth Charles, chief executive officer Joseph Charles Bottling Works and Larry Howia, chief executive officer First Citizens.

The Prime Minister, said while businessmen wanted a further injection of tax-payers funds to bolster T&T’s economic state, government was concerned about the lags in competitiveness, innovation and productivity which is believed to represent a key obstacle to the success of private sector growth strategies. Persad-Bissessar said government’s philosophy was to provide the facilitative environment, but the main engines of growth must be the private sector. She said as clichéd as the statement sounded, it was now more than ever, relevant. “The private sector must be confident, must be motivated to challenge itself to grasp new opportunities to new markets.” Three captains of industry—one posthumously—were written into Business Hall of Fame Induction by the T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce. They were: Robert Theophilus Yorke, founder of Yorke Structures Limited—the first Tobagonian making the honour roll; Helen Bhagwansingh of Bhagwansingh Hardware the first female inductee; and the late Joseph Charles founder of Joseph Charles Bottling Works makers of Solo Beverages.


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