By Sue-Ann Wayow
IF the borough of Chaguanas is elevated to city status, its economic situation will be greatly improved.
This is just one of the issues the Chaguanas Chamber of Industry and Commerce (CCIC) is hoping will be addressed when the Budget is read next week Monday.
The call for the bustling and rapidly growing district to become Trinidad and Tobago’s third city has been longstanding.
In its budget submission to the Ministry of Finance and the Economy, CCIC’s president Vishnu Charran stated that Chaguanas needed an increase in the number of downstream industries, further development of the maritime and agriculture sector, tourism and the arts and entertainment.
He wrote, “This (city status) has become necessary mainly because of the exponential increase in population resulting in increased economic activity and demand for goods and services amongst other needs. The need for additional housing commercial and industrial development in this fast paced Borough makes it even more necessary as we now face the challenge of meeting the greater demand for services.”
The decentralisation of more Government services was also needed in Chaguanas. To encourage the investment in Trinidad and Tobago, Charran stated, “An image of transparency, must be seen by would be investors as well as international rating agencies. This would give investors the necessary comfort to invest in our environment. To do this government must become more efficient in providing state services to entrepreneurs.”
The CCIC also suggested that a key manner in which crime could be reduced would be to fund the Community Defense Services Limited, that established many neighbourhood crime watch groups.
Charran stated, “This grass root solution to crime fighting does not cost the state anything at the moment but with a financial commitment to the body that has successfully been running this program for so many years, their reach can be increased tenfold and the program’s success in reducing crime nationally can be a reality. The approach would be to engage an already established body that is recognised and accepted as having the interests of the communities at heart and simply support this group in the building out of such groups nationally. At present meetings are being held online.”
A system of accountability should also be introduced to the Judiciary.
To secure food production, Charran stated, “Create an official Government receipt identifying farmer and stipulating the cost, quantum of produce, as well as the vehicle number transporting the produce that is sold. This will monitor the movement of produce, record of production and sales. The official receipt must be presented to police when stopped.”
Fishing and abattoir facilities should be upgraded to hazard analysis critical control points (HACCP) standards urgently to meet local and international standards for health and safety and the production of dairy and meat needed to be expanded Charran stated.
With reference to Information Technology and its increased use by children, the CCIC is asking the government to provide free Wifi in districts that needed internet access.
Charran stated, “We should develop the IT sector and encourage professionals to do outsourcing of products and create sustainable jobs for people through the exchange of forex. Design the curricular to produce more investors/creators for the digital sector example hardware, software, computer and cell phones. Government should work towards adjusting the education curricular to produce more software developers and engineers’ and not just users of software.”
Regarding tourism, the CCIC stated that heritage and cultural sites be preserved and is proposing that a boardwalk be built at the popular Caroni Bird Sanctuary site.
“We need to identify the most successful tourist destination in the world and ask ourselves why are they so popular and financially successful and learn from those various destinations.”
And the health care system also needed to be improved with hospitals and healthcare facilities being properly equipped, the CCIC stated.