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Vol.19 No.3 – September 2019<br />

The Voice of Business in Trinidad & Tobago

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Vol.19 No.3 – September 2019<br />

Contents<br />

Editor’s note 7<br />

Natalie Dookie introduces this issue of CONTACT<br />

Special Section<br />

Today's Startups, Tomorrow's Triumphs<br />

Creating the next generation of tycoons 8<br />

Navneet Boodhai examines the local entrepreneurial landscape.<br />

This opinion piece examines where we are, where we<br />

are going and how to get there<br />

Financing entrepreneurship: angels, stock<br />

markets and start-ups 15<br />

Angel investors open up about what they are looking for<br />

in start-ups. Kay Baldeosingh-Arjune also considers equity<br />

financing options with the TTSE and credit unions<br />

Accelerating the start-up process 19<br />

UTT, CARIRI and the ALJGSB share the experiences of their<br />

accelerator programme with Jade Cumberbatch<br />

The voice of business: Trinidad & Tobago's<br />

2020 national budget 22<br />

CONTACT talks to the Chamber’s President about<br />

recommendations for the next national budget<br />

Understanding the Caribbean<br />

Court of Justice 24<br />

Attorney-at-Law Kissoon Sinanan examines how the<br />

private sector can make better use of the CCJ to resolve<br />

trade disputes<br />

Business profile: Stuart Dalgliesh,<br />

40 years leading SCL 28<br />

CONTACT talks to distinguished business leader Stuart<br />

Dalgliesh about his career, his company and what’s next<br />

The Chamber’s growth<br />

and learning corner 31<br />

Three business leaders tell CONTACT what they have been<br />

reading as they seek to continually expand their horizons<br />

Pushing back against climate change 33<br />

You might think that the earth’s changing climate won’t<br />

really threaten Trinidad and Tobago. You’d be wrong. Gerard<br />

Rajkumar warns that we are not taking the threat seriously<br />

enough<br />

Innovation in business: A well-oiled success,<br />

the CGA brand 37<br />

Jeanette Awai guides us along the CGA journey, from<br />

establishment in the 1930s by a group of coconut farmers,<br />

to today’s modern brand<br />

Five top facts about taxation in Trinidad &<br />

Tobago 41<br />

The Chamber’s Rianna Paul tests your knowledge about the<br />

contribution of taxation to the local economy<br />

Energy update 44<br />

How is Trinidad & Tobago’s oil and gas sector performing?<br />

The Chamber analyses recent statistics<br />

Economic outlook 46<br />

The Chamber’s experts examine the current global and<br />

regional climate and projections for the rest of 2019<br />

Welcome to new members 48<br />

The Chamber extends a warm greeting to members who<br />

have recently joined<br />

On the cover:<br />

Small seed, big tree. A start-up<br />

company is like the seed that can<br />

grow into this massive silk cotton<br />

tree. (Photo by Alex Robinson<br />

Photography / Getty Images)<br />

Minister of Agriculture, Land & Fisheries<br />

Clarence Rambharat, chats with CARIRI Business<br />

Hatchery graduate, Caribbean Concoctions<br />

(photo courtesy CARIRI)<br />

4 SEPT 2019 chamber.org.tt

Courtesy CGA Caribbean Ltd<br />

The voice of business in Trinidad & Tobago<br />

Published by<br />

The Trinidad and Tobago Chamber<br />

of Industry and Commerce<br />

Columbus Circle, Westmoorings, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago<br />

PO Box 499, Port of Spain • Tel: (868) 637-6966 • Fax: (868) 622-4475<br />

Email: chamber@chamber.org.tt • Website: www.chamber.org.tt<br />

Tobago Division:<br />

ANSA McAL Building, Milford Road, Scarborough, Tobago<br />

Tel: (868) 639-2669 • Fax: (868) 639-2669<br />

Email: tobagochamber@chamber.org.tt<br />

Produced for the Chamber by<br />

MEP Publishers (Media & Editorial Projects Ltd)<br />

6 Prospect Avenue, Maraval, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago<br />

Tel: (868) 622-3821 • Fax: (868) 628-0639<br />

Email: info@meppublishers.com • Website: www.meppublishers.com<br />

Editor<br />

Online editor<br />

General manager<br />

Page layout & design<br />

Advertising<br />

Production<br />

Editorial assistants<br />

Natalie Dookie<br />

Caroline Taylor<br />

Halcyon Salazar<br />

Kriston Chen<br />

Evelyn Chung, Tracy Farrag,<br />

Mark-Jason Ramesar<br />

Jacqueline Smith<br />

Shelly-Ann Inniss,<br />

Kristine de Abreu<br />


Opinions expressed in CONTACT are those of the authors, and<br />

not necessarily of the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry<br />

and Commerce or its partners or associates.<br />

CONTACT is published quarterly by the Trinidad and Tobago<br />

Chamber of Industry and Commerce (TTCIC). It is available online at<br />

www.chamber.org.tt/media/the-contact-business-magazine<br />

©2019 TTCIC. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may<br />

be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the publisher.<br />


6 SEPT 2019 chamber.org.tt

Editor’s note<br />

Editor’s note<br />

How are we bolstering new<br />

entrepreneurs? Are accelerator<br />

programmes the answer? What<br />

financing options are available? In<br />

this issue of CONTACT, we explore<br />

these issues and more in Today’s<br />

Start-ups, Tomorrow’s Triumphs.<br />

According to the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs,<br />

between January and December 2017 4,652 companies were registered<br />

in Trinidad and Tobago. The latest statistics available show that 3,826 were<br />

registered between January and October of the following year.<br />

With a growing number of start-ups entering the market, it is disappointing to<br />

note that Trinidad and Tobago ranked 109 for “attitudes toward entrepreneurial<br />

risk” in the 2018 Global Competitiveness Report (GCR), as compared with<br />

Jamaica’s 25. And with respect to “growth of innovative companies” Trinidad<br />

and Tobago ranked 125, and Jamaica 63.<br />

Though they are a bit dated, the most recent statistics from the Central<br />

Statistical Office (CSO) reveal that there were 29,582 business establishments in<br />

2010. Of these +90% had 0-24 employees, predominantly small and mediumsized<br />

(SMEs) enterprises.<br />

So how did we score in the GCR on “financing of SMEs”? Trinidad and Tobago<br />

was 100, Jamaica ranked 83.<br />

In this issue of our Economic Outlook, the Chamber’s Trade & Business<br />

Development Unit tells us that “Trinidad and Tobago maintains its projection<br />

of average growth of 1% in 2019 to 2020.” In an economy characterised by slow<br />

growth, start-ups provide a much needed stimulus for innovation, job creation<br />

and even exports.<br />

How are we bolstering new entrepreneurs? Are accelerator programmes the<br />

answer? What financing options are available? In this issue of CONTACT, we<br />

explore these issues and more in Today’s Start-ups, Tomorrow’s Triumphs.<br />

Firstly, we examine Puerto Rico and the Business Model Canvas. We also<br />

look at the support mechanisms offered by the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber<br />

of Industry and Commerce. What financing options do local angel investors,<br />

credit unions and the stock exchange offer? UTT, CARIRI and ALJGSB tell us<br />

how their accelerator programmes are performing.<br />

In this issue of CONTACT, we present the second instalment of several new<br />

features. Read our “Five Top Facts” about taxation in Trinidad and Tobago. You<br />

will also hear from the Chamber on its recommendations for the 2019-2020<br />

national budget, in “The Voice of Business”. We feature Stuart Dalgliesh of<br />

the SCL Group as our business profile story, and this edition of “Innovation in<br />

Business” showcases CGA (Coconut Growers Association), re-branding after over<br />

80 years in business. “The Chamber’s Learning and Growth Corner” speaks to<br />

three business leaders about what they are reading.<br />

If you always wanted to know how the private sector can use the Caribbean<br />

Court of Justice to resolve regional trade disputes, we have you covered. Reflect,<br />

too, on the impact climate change is having on natural disasters, and what firms<br />

can do to mitigate this.<br />

The Chamber examines the economic prospects for Latin America and the<br />

Caribbean, and rates the local energy sector’s performance. We also welcome<br />

the Chamber’s new members.<br />

We look forward to your feedback on this issue: let us know what more<br />

Trinidad and Tobago can do to create an enabling environment for entrepreneurs.<br />

Natalie Dookie, Editor<br />

chamber.org.tt<br />

SEPT 2019 7

Creating the next<br />

generation of tycoons<br />

Trinidad and Tobago ranked 81 in the 2018 Global<br />

Entrepreneurship Index. Puerto Rico was 41, followed by<br />

Barbados at 55. Are we doing enough to impact local<br />

entrepreneurial aspirations, attitudes and abilities? How<br />

can we create an enabling environment for local start-ups?<br />

by Navneet Boodhai<br />

Manager, Engineering Institute, UWI, St. Augustine;<br />

Director/Owner, The Bungalow Restaurant & Lounge<br />

Courtesy Cocobel Chocolate

Today's start-ups, tomorrow's triumphs<br />

Courtesy Michelle Sohan, Bakery Treatz<br />

Every country aspires to become the next Denmark or<br />

Estonia, Chile, Singapore or South Korea, which are<br />

benchmarks in innovation as a key driver for job<br />

creation, wealth, stability and sustainability.<br />

There’s one major commonality among them: the<br />

ability to create unique ecosystems based on<br />

their individual cultures, strengths, weaknesses<br />

and realities.<br />

The question, therefore, is: What’s our<br />

ecosystem? As a country, as institutions and<br />

as key enablers, we’ve all got work to do if<br />

we are to quickly but successfully build a<br />

more modern infrastructure for developing<br />

entrepreneurs and generating new business<br />

growth.<br />

SME entrepreneur,<br />

TTCIC Champions of<br />

Business 2018, Michelle<br />

Sohan, Bakery Treatz<br />

“Entrepreneurship is neither<br />

a science nor an art. It is a<br />

practice.”<br />

— Peter Drucker, author<br />

Puerto Rico’s “enterprising island” model<br />

Recently, as a representative of The University<br />

of the West Indies (UWI), I had the opportunity<br />

to be part of the Organisation of American<br />

States (OAS) sponsored America’s Competitiveness<br />

Exchange (ACE) in Puerto Rico. It was a humbling<br />

experience to see what a resilient population and a few<br />

good policies did to reposition the economy and improve its<br />

competitiveness through catalytic investments in its “enterprising<br />

island” strategy after Hurricane Maria’s devastation in September 2017.<br />

In less than two years, Puerto Rico developed an entrepreneurial ecosystem<br />

with significant investment in over 20 business enablers in major cities across<br />

the island. These comprised full service incubators, accelerators, shared-spaces,<br />

labs and prototyping facilities. Hundreds of successful business start-ups and<br />

social entrepreneurship efforts not only helped normalise the economy post-<br />

Maria, but also strengthened its national ecosystem with three key areas of<br />

attention, namely:<br />

Courtesy Michelle Sohan, Bakery Treatz<br />

1. Building an entrepreneurial movement by bringing together all<br />

stakeholders under the one “enterprising island” umbrella. The strategy<br />

was developed by a wide cross-section of stakeholders and led by a<br />

multi-sectoral expert advisory board.<br />

2. Building entrepreneurial capacity within its teachers,<br />

professors, government officials, its network of entrepreneurial<br />

support professionals and multi-sector business leaders.<br />

3. Aligning a number of initiatives and interventions<br />

under a one-stop-shop approach to stimulate innovation<br />

and entrepreneurship, starting with the school system and<br />

continuing into the university and the community.<br />

Puerto Rico, an island very much like ours, arguably with much<br />

fewer resources, built a model which we can emulate.<br />

Trinidad and Tobago’s entrepreneurial environment<br />

Entrepreneurs are sometimes referred to as people who leverage<br />

opportunities to create new business. But the reverse also holds true –<br />

chamber.org.tt<br />

SEPT 2019 9

Today's start-ups, tomorrow's triumphs<br />

Understanding the Business<br />

Model Canvas (BMC)<br />

The business model canvas, created by<br />

Alexander Osterwalder of Strategyzer, is<br />

a tool used by entrepreneurs, students,<br />

financiers, competitions and institutions<br />

to help create, disseminate and understand<br />

a business model in a simple yet<br />

structured manner.<br />

This one-page framework provides<br />

just enough insight about the customer<br />

through a process of “customer discovery”,<br />

identifying not their needs but<br />

their pains and gains, moving further to<br />

pinpoint how to relieve those pains and<br />

achieve new gains, and thereby developing<br />

a value proposition that is both<br />

unique and customer-focused.<br />

Business model canvases are used to<br />

describe, visualise, assess and allow for<br />

quick changes to business models. They<br />

describe how an entrepreneur creates,<br />

delivers and captures value – all on one<br />

page.<br />

The nine building blocks of the BMC<br />

define:<br />

i. Customer segments<br />

ii. Value propositions<br />

iii. Channels<br />

iv. Customer relationships<br />

v. Revenue streams<br />

vi. Key activities<br />

vii. Key resources<br />

viii. Key partnerships<br />

ix. Cost structure.<br />

Jamaica, the first country in the Caribbean<br />

to have developed a comprehensive<br />

Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises<br />

(MSME) & Entrepreneurship Policy in<br />

2013, has trained key stakeholders across<br />

the entrepreneurial ecosystem in developing<br />

and using the BMC. It is widely<br />

used by incubators, classrooms, venture<br />

funds and competitions.<br />

“Innovation is seeing what<br />

everybody has seen and thinking<br />

what nobody has thought.”<br />

— Dr Albert Gyorgyi, credited with<br />

the discovery of Vitamin C<br />

TTCIC Champions of Business, 2017 Start-up Entrepreneur<br />

winners Nigel Jordan and Cheryl Baptiste of Twigs Naturals<br />

entrepreneurs are people who leverage business to create new opportunities.<br />

With over 20,000 companies registered and in operation within the formal<br />

economy – regardless of their size, location, or industry – this would present<br />

20,000 opportunities for future innovation and growth in T&T, if the support<br />

structures, systems, policies and institutional frameworks were better developed.<br />

We have entrepreneurial elements such as a regulatory framework that<br />

protects intellectual property, a mature legal system, quality-assured educational<br />

institutions, available skills development programmes, and opportunities for<br />

networking.<br />

But is this enough? Are we engendering the right entrepreneurial mind-set? Is<br />

the population generally willing to take risks? Do we have a supportive culture<br />

of innovation that celebrates entrepreneurial success and embraces failure?<br />

Based simply on the data collected on the annual number of patents filed or<br />

on export growth from the SME (small and medium-sized) sector, most people<br />

would say no. But do we have the innovative ideas, passion and energy? A<br />

definite yes.<br />

It is now vital that we make the transition before it’s too late. Puerto Rico’s<br />

turnaround took just two years!<br />

Education<br />

The local education system has traditionally placed more emphasis on<br />

graduating students in relatively discrete subjects, courses and degrees, than<br />

on an integrated multi-disciplinary system of learning and mentorship beyond<br />

the teaching process. Research is primarily for academic merit rather than<br />

modern application, which in effect favours the details of a problem over the<br />

advancement of a solution.<br />

Public institutions that have been given the responsibility for developing<br />

our ecosystem are either without direction or starved of resources. And the<br />

role of business in all of this discussion is simply not enough. Funding for<br />

entrepreneurial activities is largely project-based with a “here today, gone<br />

tomorrow” approach. This is generally our reality!<br />

The role of academia<br />

Since the advent of The University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) in 2004,<br />

with a mission to develop itself as an entrepreneurial university, and more<br />

recently The University of the West Indies, St Augustine campus signalling<br />

courtesy Twigs Naturals<br />

10 SEPT 2019 chamber.org.tt

Today's start-ups, tomorrow's triumphs<br />

”The things we fear the most in<br />

organisations — fluctuations,<br />

disturbances, imbalances — are<br />

the primary sources of creativity.”<br />

— Margaret Wheatley, author<br />


Case study:<br />

Puerto Rico’s economic reality<br />

The year of “Despacito”, 2017, was characterised<br />

by unprecedented escalation of<br />

debt, and businesses, talent and people<br />

fleeing the island. Hurricanes exacerbated<br />

these challenges: Puerto Rico suffered over<br />

US$90 billion in lost economic output,<br />

a rapid 20% decline in economic activity,<br />

and the permanent closure of some<br />

5,000 small businesses. While its unique<br />

geopolitical status as a US territory created<br />

opportunity, it also triggered confusion at<br />

the political level.<br />

Fast-track to 2019, a mere two years<br />

later. While there are still challenges being<br />

faced, growth in the island’s mixed economy<br />

is being driven by both local small and<br />

medium-sized entrepreneurial enterprises,<br />

balanced with foreign direct investment<br />

in the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals,<br />

textiles, and petrochemicals; electronics;<br />

aviation; food and beverages. There is<br />

growth in services, including ICT, finance,<br />

healthcare, real estate development, and<br />

tourism.<br />

similar intentions, there has been some movement<br />

away from the traditional mould.<br />

In 2014, UTT – best known for innovative<br />

and practical degree programmes in fashion,<br />

music, creative arts and animation among<br />

other disciplines – established its<br />

uSTART Incubator Programme as the<br />

primary hub to support several centres<br />

of entrepreneurial excellence, such as<br />

a sound recording studio, a fashion<br />

production lab (still be to completed),<br />

an animation lab and a 3D fabrication<br />

and rapid prototyping facility.<br />

All of these were intended to mentor<br />

and push students towards the creation<br />

of new products and services that are<br />

commercial in nature. Over a hundred young<br />

entrepreneurs have been supported at various<br />

levels since inception, efforts which I was proud to<br />

have led.<br />

UWI’s thrust in this direction has only just begun. The St<br />

Augustine Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is a hub for developing<br />

and managing an internal ecosystem. Entrepreneurship committees have been<br />

established in each faculty to disseminate cohesive plans and engender more<br />

entrepreneurial effort. The recently formed UWI Ventures is a wholly-owned<br />

subsidiary of the university, with the potential of taking equity and investing<br />

in a portfolio of start-ups. All these are steps in the right direction.<br />

Both UWI and UTT should now look at the various shared-space<br />

entrepreneurship development models and incorporate them at their Debe and<br />

Tamana campuses respectively. Other organisations such as COSTAATT, private<br />

institutions and the Arthur Lok Jack Global School of Business have all started<br />

adding entrepreneurship to their academic offerings, though largely as standalone<br />

efforts. The latter is soon to restart its Accelerator Programme supporting<br />

student entrepreneurs.<br />

These efforts are indeed admirable. But the education system continues to<br />

fall short because graduate students at all levels continue to resist risk-taking<br />

challenges and the idea of entrepreneurship.<br />

Focus must be placed on the pre-16 education system in order to stimulate<br />

mindset and cultural change at an earlier age. Adding case studies of local and<br />

regional entrepreneurial successes, failures, and phoenixes in the classroom<br />

would be a significant step in developing relevant but aspirational thought.<br />

Support institutions<br />

CARIRI has established its Centre for Enterprise Development (CED), a one-ofa-kind<br />

shared space with a lot of resources for start-up growth, but it is largely<br />

under-utilised. NIHERST, with plans for a major transformation, is seen as the<br />

triple-helix nexus within the entrepreneurial space, but it has to think outside<br />

the box to mobilise resources and take greater initiative to cement its place as<br />

a lead enabler.<br />

The National Integrated Business Incubator System (IBIS) also has a significant<br />

role to play, but needs to be modernised if it is to make any significant impact.<br />

The local Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is in the process of establishing an<br />

IP Academy, catering to the developmental needs of the judiciary, customs,<br />

technocrats, institutions, and academia, among others.<br />

chamber.org.tt<br />

SEPT 2019 11

Today's start-ups, tomorrow's triumphs<br />

Private sector backing: the<br />

Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of<br />

Industry and Commerce (TTCIC)<br />

The purpose of the TTCIC Business Insights<br />

Content Committee (BICC) is to create<br />

and manage the quality of content being<br />

developed for a widening audience of the<br />

Chamber.<br />

Content from the BICC seeks to:<br />

i. Add value to TTCIC’s membership<br />

ii. Provide opportunities for the business<br />

and entrepreneurial sectors to support<br />

the growth and development of<br />

industries and entrepreneurs through<br />

a suite of courses marketed as the<br />

Business Insights (BI) Series<br />

iii. Close the gap between academia and<br />

the business/entrepreneurial world<br />

iv. Provide real-life, local content for<br />

business incubators in Trinidad and<br />

Tobago.<br />

Content is conveyed via short courses<br />

complementing (and not competing with)<br />

the programmes of academic institutions.<br />

Since September 2017, over 20 courses<br />

have been delivered in areas such as cryptocurrency,<br />

business financing, HR management<br />

and labour issues, tax compliance,<br />

and marketing. (For more information,<br />

email events@chamber.org.tt)<br />

courtesy TTCIC<br />

2018 TTCIC<br />

Champions of Business<br />

Awardees: Start up,<br />

Emerging and SME categories<br />

Multilateral assistance and financing<br />

Several financial tools such as angel investing, venture capital, and spin–off<br />

investing are slowly being developed. Efforts by Avatar Capital, IP Angels,<br />

Renaissance Angels and others are to be encouraged, with more sound policies<br />

and incentive programmes to support them and other private sector investments.<br />

The Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce (TTCIC)<br />

continues to play a supportive role, facilitating capacity building and<br />

networking among small and medium-sized businesses through its Business<br />

Insights committee, which is primarily made up of experts from professional<br />

service firms, entrepreneurs and academia.<br />

Regionally, there have been several projects funded and implemented by the<br />

Compete Caribbean Partnership Facility (CCPF), a private sector development<br />

programme which was formed to “stimulate economic growth, increase<br />

productivity and foster innovation and competitiveness”. CCPF is jointly<br />

funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the UK Department<br />

for International Development (DFID), and the Caribbean Development Bank.<br />

Through the IDB-funded Caribbean Regional Entrepreneurial Asset<br />

Commercialisation Hub (REACH), executed by UWI with support from the World<br />

Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), a number of academic entrepreneurs,<br />

innovators and incubator leads benefitted from structured approaches to<br />

entrepreneurial development using the Business Model Canvas – a single-page<br />

tool used in the process of customer discovery, ideation and formulating a<br />

business pitch.<br />

The way forward<br />

Without a doubt, all the key components of a national ecosystem for entrepreneurship<br />

and entrepreneurial development exist. Entrepreneurs, though<br />

unstructured and creative in their approaches, thrive in environments where<br />

policies offer protection, guidance, opportunity, reward and facilitation,<br />

especially in the early start-up stages. But entrepreneurial environments that<br />

suit their needs and thereby impact on the policies being set are still largely<br />

lacking.<br />

Policymakers need to constantly engage such entrepreneurial<br />

communities and be versatile in their response.<br />

Academia has to embrace the changing needs of<br />

education, seek to break down the virtual walls<br />

created around it, and allow for more multidisciplinary<br />

learning environments.<br />

Entrepreneurial spaces must be created<br />

within these environments. Diversity of<br />

thought, and equitable and fair access to<br />

opportunity, are necessary to empower<br />

young people, women, the more vulnerable<br />

in society, and conventional businesses, to<br />

chase their entrepreneurial ambitions.<br />

Using the “factor of one” principle,<br />

and in order to develop a single national<br />

ecosystem, there is an immediate need<br />

to have all stakeholders – entrepreneurs,<br />

institutions, financiers, innovators and enablers<br />

– engage in open dialogue towards common<br />

understanding and ensuring some semblance of<br />

cooperation, celebration and focused networking.<br />

chamber.org.tt<br />

SEPT 2019 13

Discover<br />

the power of<br />

connections<br />

Connections are good for business. Connections are key<br />

for career development. Connections get you places.<br />

Through our connections we create wider opportunities.<br />

Find out more about the power of your ACCA<br />

connections at accaglobal.com/connections

Financing entrepreneurship:<br />

angels, stock markets and start-ups<br />

Where can an entrepreneur with a brilliant idea or a<br />

rapidly expanding business go for low-cost capital?<br />

In T&T, angel investment capital is a great option for<br />

start-ups, while the T&T Stock Exchange, particularly<br />

its SME market, may be the right fit for established<br />

businesses that need equity capital to grow<br />

Today's start-ups, tomorrow's triumphs<br />

Equity investment: Credit Unions<br />

Credit Unions are a great source of lowinterest<br />

capital for entrepreneurs. Here are<br />

some facts about the sector:<br />

No. of active credit unions in T&T: 295<br />

Number of members: over 564,000<br />

Value of total assets: over TT$11 billion<br />

Retrorocket/ Shutterstock.com<br />

by Kay Baldeosingh-Arjune<br />

Freelance writer<br />

Two angel investor groups in<br />

Trinidad and Tobago are Avatar<br />

Capital, led by restaurant executive<br />

Peter George, and IP Angels, led by<br />

manufacturing industry executive<br />

Robert Tang Yuk. They are both<br />

passionate about the need for a<br />

supportive ecosystem to nurture new<br />

entrepreneurs, and about the role of<br />

angel investors in providing support<br />

and guidance which is often more<br />

critical to the success of a start-up<br />

than actual financial capital.<br />

IP Angels is about three years old,<br />

and wants to fuel diversification<br />

through the development of entrepreneurship.<br />

They do not require entrepreneurs<br />

to have a full-fledged<br />

business plan when making their<br />

pitch. “Let’s just understand your<br />

idea and your target market. We will<br />

develop the numbers together. The<br />

pitch is really the beginning. From<br />

that we decide if we will invest our<br />

time further,” Tang Yuk explained.<br />

Avatar Capital was formed in 2013.<br />

According to Peter George, “We get<br />

more involved in the building out<br />

of ideas, putting in the corporate<br />

structure, legal and otherwise, cleaning<br />

up the capital structure, taking<br />

ideas and getting the business to a<br />

point where it can go out for Series<br />

A financing.” This is seven-figure<br />

funding for start-ups that have developed<br />

their business model and now<br />

have some performance indicators.<br />

What entrepreneurs need to know<br />

Don’t come if you only want capital.<br />

Understand that angel investors are<br />

themselves entrepreneurs at heart.<br />

They are not interested in just giving<br />

you money. The fun part for them<br />

is to help build something from the<br />

ground up. Take advantage of what<br />

they are offering. Even if your pitch<br />

fails, you will leave better off. Even<br />

Many credit unions offer business loans<br />

and even have specialised business<br />

windows, but you must be a member to<br />

access a loan. The advantages of credit<br />

union loans include: fixed interest rates,<br />

interest calculated on the reducing<br />

balance, low processing fees, no-penalty<br />

lump sum payments.<br />

Documents/information that may be<br />

requested include:<br />

• Projected cash flow for 12 months<br />

• Six months’ bank statements<br />

• Certificate of registration<br />

• Recent financial statements<br />

• Supporting documents for the purpose<br />

of the loan, such as pro-forma invoices<br />

for stock or equipment<br />

• Business plan<br />

• Collateral in the form of cash, near cash<br />

securities, equipment or property may<br />

be required<br />

• References<br />

• Contracts (where applicable)<br />

Source: Ministry of Labour and Small Enterprise<br />

Development website, various credit union websites.<br />

one conversation with an angel investor<br />

can put you one step closer to<br />

success.<br />

Angel investors have a close relationship<br />

with their entrepreneurs. “Our<br />

expectation is that we should be involved<br />

with the strategic direction.<br />

While we are not there to operate or<br />

run the business, we can add tremendous<br />

value if the entrepreneur is open<br />

and coachable. If the entrepreneur requires<br />

just a source of finance, then<br />

they should be looking elsewhere,”<br />

Tang Yuk said.<br />

chamber.org.tt<br />

SEPT 2019 15

Today's start-ups, tomorrow's triumphs<br />

“I’ve met some very creative and<br />

interesting people. We have the seeds for<br />

developing a really innovative business<br />

sector. That’s our future, but it’s not an<br />

easy road. We have to give the business<br />

thinkers and innovators opportunity.”<br />

Case study:<br />

Jamaica Stock Exchange<br />

The Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) is<br />

celebrating its 50th anniversary in<br />

2019 and has much to be proud of.<br />

Selected milestones:<br />

• Established 1969<br />

• Launched Junior Market in 2009<br />

Value of total assets: over TT$11<br />

billion<br />

• Main benefits: lower listing fees and<br />

an attractive tax incentive for a 10-<br />

year period<br />

• Named “World’s Best Performing<br />

Stock Market” by Bloomberg Businessweek<br />

in 2018 via a 29% increase<br />

in the JSE’s main index at year-end<br />

• Capital raised in 2018 on main markets:<br />

J$21 billion (34.6% increase)<br />

• Total market capitalisation (main<br />

and junior markets): J$1.52 trillion<br />

(December 2018)<br />

• JSE accounts for retail investors:<br />

199,145 (53.3% increase over 2017)<br />

• New securities listings in 2018: 18<br />

- JSE Main Market:<br />

36 listed companies<br />

- Junior Market:<br />

36 listed companies<br />

• February 2019: launched Jamaica<br />

Social Stock Exchange (JSSE)<br />

• April 2019: signed a new sevenyear<br />

agreement for Nasdaq to<br />

deliver matching engine and market<br />

surveillance technology (SMARTS) to<br />

the Jamaica Stock Exchange.<br />

Source: www.jamstockex.com<br />

— Robert Tang Yuk, IP Angels<br />

“I challenge the business sector to<br />

find innovative ways to support<br />

entrepreneurs at zero risk, using your<br />

existing infrastructure and surplus or<br />

idle capacity. This is a way to do CSR<br />

(Corporate Social Responsibility) in a<br />

more innovative way.”<br />

– Robert Tang Yuk, IP Angels<br />

How can entrepreneurs improve their pitch?<br />

“They need to understand that getting angel capital is the beginning, not the<br />

end; this is where the work begins,” Tang Yuk warned. “Angels are investors<br />

with expectations. This is not grant funding.”<br />

IP Angels is looking for innovation, export potential and entrepreneurs who<br />

can go the distance. In particular, Tang Yuk urged: “Be unique! The most<br />

common problem is that the idea does not have sufficient unique value. It’s<br />

either a great idea with no clear plan to create value, or it’s a ‘me too’ idea.”<br />

Avatar Capital wants products or ideas that will bring about meaningful<br />

change, be disruptive or transformative. It prizes entrepreneurs who really<br />

believe in their product, are putting their heart and soul into their business, are<br />

having fun, and are looking for a partner, not just money.<br />

George advises entrepreneurs to be ready to supply information about their<br />

business and answer questions such as: Are there any competing products? Are<br />

there any regulatory issues? What is the track record for similar products? Why<br />

is your product better than its competitors?<br />

“There are so many young people in this country with amazing<br />

ideas, but they don’t have access to capital, the handholding, the<br />

mentorship they need, and that’s the role we are playing.”<br />

– Peter George, Avatar Capital<br />

Want to become an angel investor?<br />

George’s advice to potential angel investors is:<br />

••<br />

It cannot be profit first. It’s about incubating ideas and creating an<br />

ecosystem where entrepreneurship can thrive.<br />

••<br />

You have to believe the business is sustainable<br />

and scalable.<br />

••<br />

Don’t jump in too quickly.<br />

••<br />

Have a cadre of advisers to bounce off ideas;<br />

get input.<br />

••<br />

Get some consensus re: the viability of a<br />

project.<br />

••<br />

Do your own research. Don’t just accept<br />

what the entrepreneur says.<br />

T&T Stock Exchange (TTSE)<br />

also helps entrepreneurs to grow<br />

TTSE CEO Amoy Van Lowe<br />

To support the development of small and medium-sized<br />

enterprises (SMEs), the TTSE introduced the SME Market in 2012. It’s a junior<br />

stock market attached to an existing exchange, developed to give access to<br />

additional funding for thriving SMEs who need it to take their company to the<br />

next level.<br />

These companies must have a subscription capital of TT$5 million to TT$50<br />

million after listing, compared with the First Tier Market range of TT$4 million<br />

to over TT$50 million. A major benefit is a 10% corporate tax rate for up to<br />

five years after listing.<br />

TTSE CEO Amoy Van Lowe is looking to do more. “We have recognised<br />

that a key success factor to drive the SME initiative is the development of<br />

an active and passionately committed ecosystem.” This ecosystem includes<br />

brokerage firms, accountants, compliance professionals, financiers, investors,<br />

entrepreneurs and regulators. She believes that, working in partnership, this<br />

group “will be the catalyst that has the potential to take the SME market to<br />

another level.”<br />

courtesy the T&T Stock Exchange<br />

16 SEPT 2019 chamber.org.tt

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Today's start-ups, tomorrow's triumphs<br />

Accelerating the start-up process<br />

You decide to start a business, and you need advice, guidance, and funding.<br />

Where can a start-up access this type of support? We examine the successes<br />

and pitfalls of three entrepreneurial accelerator programmes<br />

by Jade Cumberbatch<br />

Freelance writer<br />

Viktoria Kurpas/ Shutterstock.com<br />

Globally, about 97% of new businesses fail within<br />

their first five years. Business incubators and accelerator<br />

programmes can reduce this rate, especially in<br />

stagnated economic climates. Therefore entrepreneurs<br />

and small businesses are key factors in the recovery and<br />

diversification of Trinidad and Tobago’s economy.<br />

UTT’s entrepreneurship drive<br />

“In order to mitigate against failure, we need to understand<br />

the environment of the company, the regulatory aspects,<br />

access to finance, and the competitive environment that<br />

the organisation is in,” said Inshan Meahjohn, Assistant<br />

Vice President of The University of Trinidad and Tobago’s<br />

(UTT’s) Entrepreneurship & Technology Commercialisation<br />

Unit.<br />

“The other thing you need to take into consideration<br />

is that Trinidad does not have a prevailing culture of<br />

entrepreneurship. In order to inculcate that culture, we<br />

need specified programmes that would encourage students<br />

to start a company rather than simply find a job.”<br />

Not only do entrepreneurs create jobs for themselves,<br />

but they do so for others as well. They support the<br />

country’s GDP and foreign exchange market, and they<br />

help to diversify the economy away from oil and gas in<br />

the long term.<br />

Incubator and accelerator programmes provide many<br />

services, Meahjohn explained. The difference lies in the<br />

stage of the company – start-ups and new companies on<br />

one hand, companies in a growth phase on the other.<br />

The uSTART programme<br />

Business registration support, assistance with business<br />

plans, and pitch development for start-up companies<br />

are all provided by UTT’s Business Incubator/Accelerator<br />

programme, uSTART.<br />

It also provides seed funding, business coaching, finance<br />

and accounting assistance, legal, intellectual property and<br />

compliance assistance, and shared administrative support.<br />

It also supplies networking opportunities with other bodies<br />

and state agencies, mentorship, access to UTT-hosted<br />

seminars and workshops, and other business development<br />

services.<br />

Resident entrepreneurs have 24-hour access to physical<br />

space at the O’Meara campus, which is equipped with<br />

conference/meeting rooms, work spaces, office equipment,<br />

and a suite of computers with specialised software and<br />

internet access. There is also a green room, and cameras<br />

Success stories<br />

uSTART: Coded Arts<br />

• Founded by Andy Berahazar and Brian Perry in 2013, Coded Arts<br />

was registered in 2015<br />

• Commenced UTT’s uSTART programme in 2013. It is still part of<br />

the incubator<br />

• Provides game development studio services, focusing on video<br />

game outsource projects for local and international companies<br />

• Implementation of strategies: how to manage a team, approach<br />

to relationships with clients, and project management<br />

• Challenges: team members leaving, financing<br />

• Programme outcomes: increased revenue generation, increased<br />

number of clients, gained clients in Canada, hired 8 employees,<br />

10% annual growth<br />

• Future plans: move from UTT’s physical space in October 2019<br />

into its own office, gain clients in the United States, expand the<br />

team – add more employees and recruit remote employees from<br />

other Caribbean countries.<br />

chamber.org.tt<br />

SEPT 2019 19

for developing business marketing material.<br />

Since uSTART’s inception in September 2014, it has<br />

assisted in the growth and development of over 50 new<br />

companies from among students, staff, and alumni. This<br />

year, about 30 participants from 13 companies graduated<br />

from the programme, and 17 companies currently access<br />

its services.<br />

While uSTART has had many success stories, for now<br />

Meahjohn cannot say with certainty exactly how many of<br />

these companies survived and thrived in the critical early<br />

years. “Because we have only now come up to the five-year<br />

mark, we will not be able to do the tracer studies until the<br />

end of this year.”<br />

Since uSTART’s inception in September 2014, it<br />

has assisted in the growth and development of<br />

over 50 new companies from among students,<br />

staff, and alumni<br />

Hatching success with CARIRI<br />

At the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI),<br />

Executive Manager Meghnath Gosein believes incubators<br />

and accelerators are necessary because current employment<br />

opportunities are slim, making it necessary to create new<br />

jobs.<br />

He believes the country will see more incubators and<br />

accelerators in the future as more young people graduate<br />

from university and search for opportunities. Therefore, he<br />

said, it is important to provide an environment of support,<br />

involving financial institutions, trade partners, and legal<br />

professionals.<br />

“We believe the potential for growth in our economy lies<br />

in SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises]. Support<br />

programmes are sustainable once they have success and<br />

people can see that they are working. But you require an<br />

entire ecosystem to support this type of entrepreneurship.<br />

“There is now talk of other investment options. We<br />

think we could see growth in venture capital companies,<br />

angel investors, and equity financing which can support<br />

entrepreneurial growth. It may not necessarily be traditional<br />

bank financing.”<br />

According to Gosein, funding has been one of the biggest<br />

challenges for CARIRI’s Business Hatchery programme<br />

since it began in 2015. He said, as a result CARIRI is in<br />

discussion with several financial institutions to determine<br />

how they can assist with start-up business funding.<br />

The objective of the Business Hatchery, Gosein explained,<br />

is to help people establish new businesses and to advance<br />

early start-ups through group and one-on-one sessions.<br />

Like UTT, it provides the soft skills for starting, managing,<br />

and marketing a business.<br />

“We do this by giving you hands-on experience. So<br />

you do your own market study, prepare your financial<br />

documents and so on, and we guide you. We also expose<br />

entrepreneurs to intellectual property as it relates to their<br />

business.”<br />

20 SEPT 2019 chamber.org.tt

Today's start-ups, tomorrow's triumphs<br />

Success stories<br />

CARIRI: Aurora Bitayson Limited<br />

• Founded by sisters Lyndi and Lynissa Jordon in June 2016,<br />

registered in September of that year<br />

• Started CARIRI’s Business Hatchery programme in January<br />

2017 to give the business structure<br />

• Produces coconut oil, fruit syrups, and wines<br />

• Implementation of strategies: marketing and branding.<br />

Executed surveys to get feedback on products, compared<br />

packaging and price points of competitors. “This is<br />

something we continue to do even today, not just for items<br />

similar to our products but in general. We are always<br />

looking at form and function.”<br />

• Challenges: packaging. It is difficult and expensive to import<br />

glass bottles, and distributers do not import in small batches<br />

• Programme outcomes: sales increased by 300%, the production<br />

and formulas of products are now more efficient, larger<br />

batch sizes; supplies retail businesses as well as individual<br />

customers throughout Trinidad<br />

• Future plans: export to other Caribbean countries and North<br />

America, establish factory.<br />

Coded Arts<br />

The Hatchery also provides technical support, technology<br />

bays, office space and meeting rooms, and one day hopes<br />

to establish an alumni association for networking, advice<br />

and support.<br />

So far 15 cohorts, each with an average of 10-12<br />

people, have graduated, including some groups sponsored<br />

by corporate organisations. Close to 100 people either<br />

started or expanded businesses through the three-month<br />

programme.<br />

courtesy the University of Trinidad and Tobago<br />

So far 15 cohorts, each with<br />

an average of 10-12 people,<br />

have graduated, including some<br />

groups sponsored by corporate<br />

organisations. Close to 100<br />

people either started or expanded<br />

businesses through CARIRI’s threemonth<br />

programme<br />

The BizBooster accelerator only<br />

accepts Lok Jack alumni. It is<br />

focusing on export-oriented<br />

businesses, and is in the process of<br />

signing partnerships with financiers<br />

to provide entrepreneurs with<br />

financial assistance such as loans<br />

and joint ventures<br />

Finding its niche: ALJGSB<br />

The Arthur Lok Jack Global School of Business started its business incubator<br />

programme, BizBooster, in 2012, but switched to an accelerator model in<br />

September 2018, after 24 people had successfully completed the programme.<br />

Interim manager Bhushan Singh said the switch was made for several<br />

reasons. The incubator was expensive to conduct, as it was free of charge to<br />

participants. Also, there were other incubators in the country, so BizBooster<br />

felt somewhat redundant.<br />

Furthermore, the school already trained its students in the basics of starting<br />

and managing a business through its main business courses, including<br />

marketing, finance, logistics, managing the supply chain, advertising, customer<br />

service, and succession planning, so an incubator seemed unnecessary.<br />

“Having a plethora of incubators without significant output is a waste of<br />

resources. We had to look at our core competencies and what we do best. We<br />

had the idea generation, we provided the knowledge and training, but part of<br />

what was missing was networking, mentorship and financing.<br />

“So we have moved on from the incubator concept. We are taking this to a<br />

higher level, to a programme where you must have your own business to get<br />

in, and we will offer it online so we don’t take you away from your business.”<br />

The BizBooster accelerator only accepts Lok Jack alumni. It is focusing on<br />

export-oriented businesses, and is in the process of signing partnerships with<br />

financiers to provide entrepreneurs with financial assistance such as loans and<br />

joint ventures.<br />

Despite the training, financing, and support, the key to a successful business<br />

is passion, Singh explained. “If you don’t have passion for your business, it<br />

will be a failure from day one.<br />

“We are not in it for the numbers. We’re looking for passion and the ability<br />

to execute. Passion is about perseverance and dedication. When you start, you<br />

have a lot of negativity to deal with. You have to believe in yourself so much<br />

that when anyone tells you ‘no’ you ignore that and say you will make this<br />

venture a success.”<br />

chamber.org.tt<br />

SEPT 2019 21

Voice of business<br />


Trinidad & Tobago’s 2020 national budget<br />

What recommendations would you like to see included in the 2020<br />

national budget for Trinidad and Tobago?<br />

Over the years, the Chamber has proposed<br />

a number of fiscal measures to<br />

be included in the national budget.<br />

Once properly implemented, these<br />

ideas have the potential to improve the<br />

prospects of the business community<br />

and to transform Trinidad and Tobago’s<br />

economy. This year we would like to<br />

highlight three critical areas which we<br />

recommend for inclusion in the 2019-<br />

2020 budget.<br />

1. A sound financial system that<br />

encourages entrepreneurs and<br />

minimises risk<br />

The Chamber recognises that there is significant underinvestment<br />

of capital in Trinidad and Tobago. Institutions<br />

in the traditional banking sector are, by design, riskaverse.<br />

At the same time, many entrepreneurs struggle to<br />

access funding to launch new businesses.<br />

This presents an opportunity for both private and<br />

institutional investors, who are likely to be less risk-averse<br />

than banks, to connect with innovative entrepreneurs.<br />

Government can intervene in the establishment<br />

of structure for non-traditional investment using<br />

incentives, structural support and the SME Stock<br />

Exchange<br />

We recognise that the government’s proposed collateral<br />

registry would make capital more easily available to<br />

borrowers. However, this solution is still in the early stages<br />

of planning. In the meantime there is need for government<br />

support in creating an enabling environment for such<br />

investment, so that both investors and entrepreneurs can<br />

make use of incentives and critical protections to ensure<br />

minimal abuse/fallout.<br />

Government can intervene in the establishment of<br />

structure for non-traditional investment using the<br />

following methods:<br />

a. Incentives: Individuals or institutions that invest in<br />

start-ups and other entrepreneurial ventures should<br />

be incentivised to do so through income tax relief,<br />

capital gains rollover, loss relief, and gains not<br />

Reyaz Ahamad<br />

President, Trinidad & Tobago<br />

Chamber of Industry & Commerce;<br />

Executive Director, Southern Sales<br />

and Service Company Limited<br />

subject to capital gains tax. It is also<br />

critical for the government to ensure<br />

that eligibility rules for the size of<br />

investment and size of company are<br />

appropriately scaled.<br />

b. Structural support: A key aspect<br />

of investment for a non-institutional<br />

investor is engaging in due diligence.<br />

It is critical that access to publicly<br />

available business information should<br />

be improved so that both investors and<br />

start-ups can be protected. This can be<br />

implemented through greater online<br />

access to government records, and by<br />

streamlining the querying process to<br />

ensure greater ease of doing business.<br />

c. SME Stock Exchange: To further encourage nontraditional<br />

investment, it is critical that participation<br />

in the SME tier of the Stock Exchange is promoted,<br />

to incentivise trading activity and bring in more<br />

participants.<br />

Creating an educational campaign about the SME Stock<br />

Exchange could help businesses to:<br />

••<br />

Know when their company meets the requirements for<br />

listing<br />

••<br />

Learn the necessary steps, if they are not ready<br />

••<br />

Clearly understand what is required of listed companies,<br />

as many companies hesitate to list, out of concern for<br />

lack of privacy and loss of control.<br />

2. An improved business environment that<br />

fosters entrepreneurship<br />

We should focus our energies on new, viable and<br />

economically feasible start-ups that can move the economy<br />

and society forward. The Chamber is already supporting<br />

the promotion of micro, small and medium enterprises<br />

(MSMEs) through our:<br />

We should focus our energies on new, viable and<br />

economically feasible start-ups that can move the<br />

economy and society forward<br />

22 SEPT 2019 chamber.org.tt

Table 1: Comparison of global angel investing incentives<br />

Structure<br />

Value<br />

deductible<br />

Conditions<br />

China Malaysia USA<br />

An investor or investment<br />

firm that picks up a stake in<br />

a tech start-up at the seed or<br />

early stage, and stays invested<br />

for two or more years, can<br />

deduct a portion of their<br />

investment from their taxable<br />

income<br />

The investee company first<br />

applies to the governing body<br />

for angel investments to be<br />

qualified for investment under<br />

the Angel Tax Incentive.<br />

It can then obtain a letter<br />

to present to the accredited<br />

angel investors<br />

The Small Business Stock<br />

Gains Exclusion Act provides<br />

for the capital gains from<br />

investment in select small<br />

business stock to be excluded<br />

from federal tax<br />

70% 100% 100% (up to gains of US$10<br />

million)<br />

1. The new start-up must be<br />

in the tech industry<br />

2. The new start-up must be<br />

located in a specified area<br />

of the country<br />

1. The angel investor may<br />

only file for the tax rebate<br />

two years after the point<br />

of investment<br />

2. The investee company<br />

must be at least 51% locally<br />

owned<br />

3. Investment into a<br />

start-up must be at least<br />

US$1,207.00 and must not<br />

exceed US$120,702.50 per<br />

annum<br />

1. The investment must be<br />

held for a minimum of<br />

five years<br />

2. The investee company<br />

must not have more than<br />

US$50 million in assets<br />

before the investment or<br />

immediately afterwards<br />

3. The business may not be in<br />

certain industries: services,<br />

farming, finance, mining,<br />

extraction, restaurant,<br />

hospitality, real estate<br />

UK (Enterprise Investment<br />

Scheme)<br />

Under this scheme, angel investors<br />

can gain both income<br />

tax and capital gains tax relief<br />

on investments for eligible<br />

shares in small unquoted<br />

companies that qualify under<br />

the scheme<br />

i. 30% (on income tax up to<br />

£1 million)<br />

ii. 100% (on capital gains from<br />

selling)<br />

1. The angel investor must<br />

retain the shares for a<br />

minimum of three years<br />

2. Investors must not have<br />

been previously connected<br />

to the investee company<br />

3. Only ordinary shares<br />

qualify<br />

UK (Seed Enterprise<br />

Investment Scheme)<br />

This scheme, unlike the Enterprise<br />

Investment Scheme,<br />

seeks to incentivise investments<br />

in very small businesses<br />

with growth potential that<br />

are at a very early seed or<br />

start-up stage, have only just<br />

started trading, and may have<br />

little or no revenues and very<br />

few assets<br />

i. 50% (on income tax up to<br />

£100,000)<br />

ii. 50% (on capital gains from<br />

selling)<br />

1. The investee company<br />

must have fewer than 25<br />

employees<br />

2. The investee company<br />

must have fewer than<br />

£200,000 in assets at time<br />

of investment<br />

3. Investee companies can<br />

only receive investment<br />

capital totalling £150,000,<br />

which must be used within<br />

three years<br />

• Business Insights series, which provides B2B training<br />

via live and on-demand webinars<br />

• Promotion of an Angel Investor Programme to<br />

support the entrepreneurship ecosystem. This will<br />

bring MSMEs and investors together, increase the<br />

capability and capacity-building of MSMEs as<br />

competitive companies, and increase employment,<br />

taxable revenue, and even foreign exchange earnings.<br />

To supplement these initiatives, the Chamber would<br />

welcome the government’s support in creating an enabling<br />

environment for their success. This can be done by:<br />

• Improving inter-agency and ministry linkages to<br />

shorten and simplify the business registration process<br />

• Re-establishing the FairShare Programme as an<br />

incentive for entrepreneurs to bid for substantial<br />

projects<br />

• Providing incentives for angel investors. We have<br />

reviewed some international examples (see Table 1).<br />

3. A modern and effective law enforcement system<br />

With an estimated TT$3.876 billion allocated to the<br />

Ministry of National Security for the financial year<br />

2018/2019, it can be said that a significant proportion of<br />

T&T’s GDP is tied up in our protective services and is not<br />

being used for economic development.<br />

A fairly recent IMF Regional Economic Outlook Report<br />

states that Trinidad and Tobago’s GDP growth rate would<br />

increase by 0.3% should our crime rate match the global<br />

average. This is a clear indication that more effective<br />

measures need to be implemented and enforced when<br />

dealing with the country’s high crime rate. To address this<br />

A fairly recent IMF Regional Economic Outlook<br />

Report states that Trinidad and Tobago’s GDP<br />

growth rate would increase by 0.3% should our<br />

crime rate match the global average<br />

concern, the Chamber recommends the following to reduce<br />

the burden on the court system:<br />

• Establish night and petty courts to clear the backlog<br />

in the judicial system. Video conferencing should<br />

be used between the jails and the courts, to reduce<br />

the cost of transporting prisoners and to boost the<br />

efficiency of the judicial system<br />

• Improve the existing system by allowing persons with<br />

minor convictions (possession of small amounts of<br />

marijuana, cursing, etc.), who have completed their<br />

sentences, to have the charges struck off their record<br />

automatically, rather than make them apply to have<br />

the charges struck off<br />

• Remove minor vehicular and traffic offences (tickets<br />

and small accidents) from the existing court docket.<br />

Establish a separate court to deal with these matters<br />

• Implement an improved traffic ticket system that<br />

would allow for payment of fines at District Revenue<br />

Offices, Post Offices and Police Stations, instead of at<br />

the District Court where the offence was committed.<br />

The current labour relations climate remains a challenging<br />

one. We are working with an Industrial Relations Act that<br />

is over 46 years old. This needs to be overhauled urgently<br />

to align with global best practice.<br />

chamber.org.tt<br />

SEPT 2019 23

The CCJ Bench<br />

Understanding the<br />

Caribbean Court of Justice<br />

While the CCJ marks its 14th year in 2019, only four Caribbean countries<br />

recognise it as their final court of appeal. Why is the number of matters brought<br />

before it so small? How can the court assist the private sector?<br />

by Kissoon Sinanan<br />

Attorney-at-Law<br />

The Agreement establishing the Caribbean Court of<br />

Justice (CCJ) was signed by ten Caricom member<br />

states 1 in 2001. The court was inaugurated four years<br />

later, on 16 April 2005. It was established with both<br />

original and appellate jurisdictions, pursuant to Article III<br />

of the Agreement.<br />

So far, only Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Guyana<br />

have replaced the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council<br />

with the CCJ as their final court of appeal.<br />

In its appellate jurisdiction, the CCJ hears and determines<br />

appeals in civil and criminal matters, as detailed under<br />

Article XXV of the Agreement 2 . In certain matters, appeals<br />

lie as a matter of right to all natural or juridical persons 3<br />

(comprising individuals and companies); in others, the<br />

leave of the Court of Appeal in the respective member<br />

states is required before any matter can be taken to the<br />

CCJ.<br />

Currently only Barbados, Belize, Dominica and<br />

Guyana have replaced the Judicial Committee of<br />

the Privy Council with the CCJ as their final court<br />

of appeal<br />

Matters which can be appealed as a matter of right<br />

include property rights, dissolution or nullity of marriage,<br />

interpretation of the constitution of a member state, and<br />

issues related to the protection of fundamental rights. 4<br />

Appeals requiring the leave of the Court of Appeal of a<br />

respective member state include decisions in any civil<br />

proceedings involving a question of great general or public<br />

importance, and such other cases as may be prescribed by<br />

any law of the contracting party. 5<br />

Private sector participation<br />

Under the original jurisdiction, the CCJ has exclusive<br />

jurisdiction to hear and deliver judgment on disputes in<br />

which member states are involved, referrals from national<br />

courts or tribunals of member states, and applications by<br />

all natural or juridical persons for special leave to appear<br />

as parties before the CCJ. 6<br />

The CCJ also has exclusive and compulsive jurisdiction<br />

to deliver advisory opinions concerning the interpretation<br />

and application of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas<br />

(RTC). 7 It is also clearly stated in the Agreement and the<br />

RTC that when a judgment is delivered by the CCJ, any<br />

member state, Caricom bodies, organs, entities or persons<br />

24 SEPT 2019 chamber.org.tt

Law and order<br />

to whom the judgment applies must comply with the<br />

judgment promptly. 8<br />

It is under the original jurisdiction of the CCJ therefore<br />

that one could anticipate the increased participation<br />

of the private sector in Caricom, if only to ensure that<br />

member states abide by their obligations under the RTC<br />

with respect to the Caricom Single Market and Economy<br />

(CSME).<br />

However, the number of matters that are brought<br />

to the CCJ under the original jurisdiction is still<br />

very small compared with the matters under the<br />

appellate jurisdiction<br />

It is not surprising therefore that the majority of the<br />

decisions under the original jurisdiction of the CCJ have<br />

involved the private sector. However, the number of<br />

matters that are brought to the CCJ under the original<br />

jurisdiction are still very small compared with the matters<br />

under the appellate jurisdiction. 9<br />

Some of the reasons for this phenomenon may include<br />

the preference for government-to-government negotiation,<br />

a lack of understanding of trade matters, and a lack of<br />

understanding of member states’ rights and obligations<br />

under the RTC as well as time and costs.<br />

Challenges for business<br />

Prior to the CCJ, member states only discussed their<br />

private sector problems and challenges at the Council of<br />

Trade and Economic Development (COTED), and bilaterally<br />

in between COTED meetings. This practice continued for<br />

years with generally beneficial results and at no cost to<br />

the private sector. In fact, when Trinidad Cement Limited<br />

(TCL) brought the first matter to the CCJ under the original<br />

jurisdiction, there was divided opinion throughout the<br />

region about whether the company adopted the proper<br />

approach.<br />

Many in the private sector do not fully understand<br />

Caricom trade rules and are therefore more comfortable<br />

leaving their trade issues with government officials<br />

to address. There are also not many attorneys who are<br />

familiar with these rules and can assist private sector<br />

entities. There are also not many attorneys in the region<br />

who are versed in international law, which is applied by<br />

the CCJ in exercising its original jurisdiction 10 . Similarly,<br />

the rights of the private sector generally flow from the<br />

rights of the member states under the RTC.<br />

may prefer not to approach the CCJ at all. In support of<br />

this position, both the RTC and the Agreement have a<br />

provision that encourages member states, to the maximum<br />

extent possible, to use arbitration and alternative dispute<br />

mechanisms to settle private commercial disputes 11 .<br />

Many in the private sector do not fully understand<br />

Caricom trade rules and are therefore more comfortable<br />

leaving their trade issues with government<br />

officials to address<br />

The first company to bring an application to the CCJ<br />

under the original jurisdiction was Trinidad Cement<br />

Limited (TCL). Other companies that have followed this<br />

trend include SM Jaleel and Company Limited, Humming<br />

Bird Rice Mills Limited, Rudisa Beverages and Juices NV,<br />

Arawak Cement Company Limited (a subsidiary of TCL),<br />

and Rock Hard Distribution Limited.<br />

References<br />

1<br />

There are fifteen member states of Caricom listed on the Caricom website (www.CARI-<br />

COM.org) and currently twelve of these member states have signed the Agreement.<br />

Member states of Caricom: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica,<br />

Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent<br />

and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago<br />

2<br />

Currently, this only applies to Barbados, Belize, Guyana and Dominica<br />

3<br />

The phrase “Persons, natural or juridical” is used in Article 222 of the Revised Treaty of<br />

Chaguaramas (RTC).<br />

4<br />

Article XXV.2 of the Agreement<br />

5<br />

Article XXV.3 of the Agreement<br />

6<br />

Article XII of the Agreement and Article 222 of the RTC on the matter of special leave<br />

7<br />

Article XIII of the Agreement and Article 212 of the RTC<br />

8<br />

Article XV of the Agreement and Article 215 of the RTC<br />

9<br />

The Honourable Mr Justice Saunders, Speech on the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas:<br />

Conflicts and Contradictions for the Island State; delivered 16 May 2017<br />

10<br />

The Hon. Mr Justice Saunders, op. cit.<br />

11<br />

Article XXIII.1 of the Agreement and Article 223 of the RC<br />

Pioneering use in trade<br />

Given the options available for negotiations through<br />

government channels, past experience in utilising the<br />

latter and the potential costs involved in making an<br />

application to the CCJ, many private sector entities<br />

ALL Photography courtesy The Caribbean Court of Justice<br />

chamber.org.tt<br />

SEPT 2019 25

26 SEPT 2019 chamber.org.tt

Law and order<br />

The TCL Experience<br />

TCL v Guyana [2008] CCJ 1 (OJ)<br />

TCL v Guyana [2009] CCJ 5 (OJ)<br />

In the matter TCL v Guyana [2008] CCJ 1 (OJ), the CCJ<br />

emphasised the historic nature of the proceedings and<br />

stated that it was the first matter in which the Caribbean<br />

Court of Justice had been called upon to exercise its<br />

original jurisdiction. It therefore had no precedents to<br />

follow in its interpretation and application of the RTC.<br />

While the Court reserved its decision, it identified two<br />

issues for determination in the matter. Firstly, whether<br />

for the purposes of Article 222 it is sufficient for a<br />

company to be incorporated or registered under the domestic<br />

legislation of a contracting party and, secondly,<br />

whether Article 222 of the Treaty accords to one who is<br />

held to be a person, natural or juridical, of a contracting<br />

party the right to sue that contracting party.<br />

Judgment was given on 15 January 2009 granting<br />

special leave to TCL.<br />

Prior to TCL’s case against Guyana, that country on<br />

numerous occasions unitarily removed the 15% Common<br />

External Tariff (CET) on cement imported from<br />

outside of Caricom. After many failed attempts at settling<br />

the matter bilaterally, TCL took the matter to the<br />

CCJ. In the case, TCL V the Co-Operative Republic of<br />

Guyana [2009] CCJ 5 (OJ), the Court ordered among<br />

other things that Guyana must re-impose the CET and<br />

that the Government must pay TCL two-thirds of its<br />

cost. While it was ordered that the CET be reimposed<br />

within 28 days of the Court Order of 20 August 2009,<br />

this was not done until 8 January 2010, after TCL filed<br />

a Contempt of Court application at the CCJ.<br />

TCL v The Caribbean Community [2009] CCJ 4 (OJ)<br />

In TCL v The Caribbean Community [2009] CCJ 4 (OJ),<br />

TCL sought clarification of the administrative procedures<br />

relating to the suspension of the CET. The Court<br />

in its judgment sought to address this issue while trying<br />

to strike a balance between the need for flexibility on<br />

policy issues and at the same time ensure the presence<br />

of “effective measures to curb the abuse of discretionary<br />

power”.<br />

The CCJ stated that Article 82 of the RTC, which lists<br />

the conditions for suspending the CET, must be interpreted<br />

in a sensible manner. That is, the production of<br />

the product is only one part of the equation. The company<br />

must also be able meet the demands of the member<br />

states in a timely manner.<br />

The CCJ also clarified Article 26 of the RTC and the<br />

responsibility of the Community Council to establish<br />

and maintain “an efficient system of consultation at the<br />

national and regional levels”, the object being to enhance<br />

the decision-making process in the Community.<br />

This duty to maintain an efficient system of consultation,<br />

the CCJ indicated, would include a duty to monitor<br />

the operation of that system once it has been established,<br />

as well as a duty to try and correct any weaknesses that<br />

emerged in the system; and to ensure as far as possible<br />

scrupulous adherence to that system. It was emphasised<br />

that these are duties which rest primarily on the Community<br />

Council, but in the performance of which that Council<br />

is entitled to the assistance of the Secretary-General.<br />

The CCJ also stated that member states have a duty to<br />

provide the Secretary-General and COTED with accurate,<br />

relevant and timely information. The Secretary-General<br />

must also do what they reasonably can in order to ascertain<br />

whether appropriate consultation has been held;<br />

and if it has not, to encourage the Competent Authority<br />

to remedy that omission.<br />

TCL v the Competition Commission [2012] CCJ 4 (OJ)<br />

While the CCJ dismissed the application by TCL, clarification<br />

was provided on some of the rules and procedures<br />

of the Competition Commission.<br />

The CCJ observed that it is difficult to see how an<br />

investigation of the regional Competition Commission<br />

could deal with cross-border anti-competitive business<br />

conduct by focusing on the infringement of national<br />

provisions. Moreover, it stated that this does not seem<br />

to be required by the RTC and, indeed, the question of<br />

which national provisions to concentrate on would almost<br />

certainly arise. In all the circumstances, the Court<br />

encouraged the Commission to review its rules so as to<br />

ensure that they are in concert with the RTC and reflect<br />

the appropriate standards of fairness.<br />

courtesy the Caribbean Court of Justice<br />

chamber.org.tt<br />

SEPT 2019 27

Business profile<br />

courtesy the SCL GROUP<br />

Stuart Dalgliesh:<br />

40 years leading SCL<br />

With reporting by Kevin Garcia, Freelance writer<br />

Stuart Dalgliesh is the CEO and a founding<br />

member of SCL Trinidad. His first major sale consisted<br />

of materials for the Eric Williams Financial<br />

Complex project in the 1980s. Today, SCL is a<br />

regional brand and company with operations in<br />

four countries across the Caribbean. He reflects<br />

on his 40-year journey and offers advice to budding<br />

entrepreneurs in Trinidad & Tobago<br />

Innovation, dedication and foresight. These are<br />

the core characteristics that represent Stuart Dalgliesh,<br />

founder and Chief Executive Officer of the SCL Group of<br />

Companies. SCL, founded in 1979, now has operations<br />

in Trinidad, Jamaica, St Lucia and Guyana. Dalgliesh<br />

has harnessed innovation, dedication and foresight to<br />

move the business from the southernmost corner of the<br />

Caribbean onto the global stage.<br />

“My mother brought me up with the understanding that<br />

you get what you work for,” he says, “and there is no free<br />

lunch.” The firm belief and understanding that hard work<br />

pays off is embedded in the leadership culture of SCL.<br />

This culture has led to some key decisions that resulted in<br />

successful business transformations over the past 40 years.<br />

Background and history<br />

The journey to becoming the Caribbean’s leading supplier<br />

of concrete engineering products and services was not<br />

straightforward or easy. SCL started operations in 1979<br />

as Surface Coatings Limited, and after acquiring the<br />

distribution rights for FOSROC International (formerly<br />

Chemical Building Products), it was poised to dominate<br />

the market.<br />

The company’s initial focus was only on supplying<br />

the local Trinidad and Tobago market. However, with<br />

the economic decline and devaluation of the Trinidad<br />

dollar in the 1980s, Surface Coatings Limited, like many<br />

other businesses during that period, suffered a significant<br />

reversal of fortunes. Dalgliesh and his SCL leadership<br />

team decided to do three things: to diversify its operations<br />

through manufacturing, to introduce new products and<br />

services, and to pursue new markets in other countries.<br />

This three-tier approach was successful, and the company<br />

was able to return to profitability.<br />

There were two business name changes: Specialist<br />

Chemicals Limited in 1991, and the present SCL (Trinidad)<br />

Limited. Both positively impacted company branding. The<br />

combination of improved marketing, delivering quality<br />

engineering products, timely distribution and exceptional<br />

service continues to separate SCL from its regional<br />

competition.<br />

Innovation drives expansion<br />

When SCL started manufacturing in Trinidad, exports were<br />

in high demand throughout the Caribbean, starting with<br />

St Maarten and followed by Jamaica. Today, SCL proudly<br />

distributes products to over twelve Caricom states and<br />

eight members of the OECS.<br />

SCL has four core divisions, and five retail outlets within<br />

Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and Guyana. There are<br />

also five distributors, in Suriname, Grenada, Barbados, St<br />

Maarten and St Lucia respectively.<br />

Concrete and cement is SCL’s largest division. It works<br />

with the top ready-mix and precast concrete companies<br />

throughout the Caribbean, providing innovative concrete<br />

technology, technical advice, concrete testing, mix designs<br />

and much more.<br />

The engineering division includes internationally<br />

“Our engineers are among the best in the Caribbean.<br />

Our architects are among the best in the<br />

Caribbean. Our contractors are among the best in<br />

the Caribbean. But these services are not being<br />

exported”<br />

accredited products, and is focused on locally manufactured<br />

and imported systems. With a dedicated team of<br />

professionals, it caters to the energy and marine sectors,<br />

the construction industry and more.<br />

The industrial maintenance division offers a range of<br />

cleaning chemicals that are environmentally friendly<br />

and locally created. Some of the industrial products were<br />

developed to fill specific gaps in the market.<br />

The industrial raw materials division was introduced<br />

to supply local manufacturing firms with top quality<br />

raw materials, reducing the lengthy wait time and high<br />

transportation costs previously endured by Trinidadian<br />

companies. This division also offers contract manufacturing<br />

and white-label product services to minimise production<br />

costs and overheads for SMEs.<br />

28 SEPT 2019 chamber.org.tt

Business profile<br />

There is need for strong local content<br />

policy and legislation which advocates the<br />

development of skills, technology transfer,<br />

and the use of local manpower and<br />

manufacturing<br />

SCL Group: growth timeline<br />

••<br />

Formed in 1979 to market<br />

engineering-based products<br />

••<br />

Started local manufacturing in<br />

1985<br />

••<br />

Diversified operations in 1991<br />

through the establishment of<br />

a new industrial maintenance<br />

division. Diversified again in<br />

2009 with the formation of an<br />

industrial raw material division,<br />

and in 2012 when it entered the<br />

lubricant market with a range of<br />

premium quality lubes, greases<br />

and fuel additives<br />

••<br />

Expanded into Jamaica (SCL<br />

(Jamaica) Limited) in 1995 and<br />

St Lucia (Caribbean Technologies<br />

Limited) in 2006<br />

••<br />

In 2013, constructed a brandnew<br />

state-of-the-art production,<br />

distribution and administrative<br />

complex at Saddle Road in San<br />

Juan, Trinidad<br />

••<br />

Opened its first retail store<br />

in 2014, The Solution Store,<br />

designed to be the nexus<br />

between the SCL Group and its<br />

ever-growing retail client base<br />

••<br />

SCL (Guyana) Inc. was<br />

established in February 2016<br />

to safeguard existing business<br />

and to meet the demands of the<br />

growing oil and gas sector<br />

• Retail outlets opened in Jamaica<br />

2017 and Tobago in 2019.<br />

SCL intends to continue its 40-year journey<br />

by innovating and diversifying across its<br />

Trinidad, Guyana, Jamaica and St Lucia<br />

operations, always on the lookout for new<br />

products and market opportunities<br />

An advocate for local content<br />

Dalgliesh believes Trinidad and Tobago should do more to support local firms.<br />

“While our companies are fighting to open doors in international markets, it<br />

is very easy for foreign firms to set up shop here. There is a need for a strong<br />

local content policy, and for legislation which advocates the development of<br />

skills, technology transfer, and the use of local manpower and manufacturing.<br />

One that would not stifle foreign investment but would allow for a mutually<br />

beneficial exchange.”<br />

Dalgliesh goes on to point out that: “Our engineers are among the best in the<br />

Caribbean. Our architects are among the best in the Caribbean. Our contractors<br />

are among the best in the Caribbean. But these services are not being exported,<br />

and in the local construction industry the foreign content is often given priority<br />

over local Trinidadian content. The result is that Trinidad and Tobago is being<br />

relegated to becoming a nation of house-builders, and this is not a good trend.”<br />

The future<br />

Four years ago, Trinidad and Tobago faced an economic slump, and SCL had<br />

to adapt when the local market contracted by 40%. As a result, its economic<br />

outlook remains guarded but optimistic.<br />

“Our growth outlook is to acquire companies with business synergies that we<br />

can add value to through manufacturing efficiencies, cost savings and access<br />

to new markets. SCL intends to continue its 40-year journey by innovating<br />

and diversifying across its Trinidad, Guyana, Jamaica and St Lucia operations,<br />

always on the lookout for new products and market opportunities.”<br />

Dalgliesh advice to Caribbean entrepreneurs<br />

Dalgliesh is excited about the junior stock exchange and sees a possible listing<br />

in the future.<br />

One of his proudest moments in business was when within a single year<br />

he was approached by three of the world’s leading competitors to distribute<br />

their products. This was a humbling experience, just to be recognised by the<br />

world’s greats. He has learned many lessons since, and offers the following to<br />

businesspeople in Trinidad and the Caribbean.<br />

“We must continue to take calculated risks in order to grow. One example is<br />

the junior stock exchange – rather than borrowing money and having difficulty<br />

paying it back, there are new alternatives to obtain equity locally,” he notes.<br />

He also warns new entrepreneurs to document agreements properly. “Do<br />

not trust verbal contracts, promises and handshakes. That was the root of<br />

practically all my problems early on at SCL. A lesson I quickly learned and<br />

corrected.” He advises young businesspeople to get this right from the outset,<br />

which will boost their chances of financial success.<br />

And in any new venture, he continues, always negotiate the divorce whilst<br />

discussing the marriage. This is crucial, as many friends, family and business<br />

partners part ways in animosity over money.<br />

For Dalgliesh himself, the road ahead leads to semi-retirement, but he says<br />

he wants to leave with the lights on. He sees a bright future for the company,<br />

with continued investment in the research and development of environmentally<br />

safe products.<br />

He has always relied on innovation, a little luck and a lot of hard work. It is<br />

this impulse to reinvent itself, no matter how comfortable it may have been in<br />

the market, that drove SCL during its 40-year journey – and will continue to<br />

inspire the company to go forward.<br />

chamber.org.tt<br />

SEPT 2019 29




A N N I V E R<br />

A R Y<br />


• Concrete Accelerators<br />

• Corrosion Inhibitors<br />

•<br />

• Plasticizer<br />

• Polycarboxylates<br />

• Retarders<br />

• Super Plasticisers<br />

• Waterproofers<br />

• Chemical & Mechanical Anchors<br />

• Concrete Admixtures<br />

• Concrete Repairs<br />

• Construction Grouts<br />

• Decorative Concrete & Stains<br />

• Epoxy Coatings<br />

• Geotextiles<br />

• Grouts<br />

• Joint Sealants •<br />

• Carpet Shampoos<br />

• Degreasers<br />

• Disinfectants/Sanitizers<br />

• Hand Soaps<br />

• Floor Strippers<br />

• Janitorial Supplies & Accessories<br />

• Industrial & Commercial Mats<br />

• Toilet & Bathroom Cleaners<br />

• Sealers and Polishers<br />

• Compression Testing of Cubes and Cylinders • Core Testing<br />

• Calibration of Compressive Testing Machines • Schmidt Hammer Test<br />

• Sieve Analysis • Cement Test • Mix Designs • Trial Mixes<br />

• Custom Blending Solutions for your specific needs. • Contract Manufacturing<br />

• Acids<br />

• Hydrocarbons<br />

• Mineral Salts<br />

• Alcohols<br />

• Ketones<br />

• Solvents<br />


LP# 45 Saddle Road., San Juan,<br />

Trinidad, W.I.<br />

Tel: (868) 675-5555 | Fax: (868) 638-6302<br />

Email: sales@scl-group.com<br />

www.scl-group.com<br />


SAN JUAN LP#52 Bhagoutie Trace,San Juan<br />

Tel: (868) 299-0066/7<br />

MARABELLA #48 Taylor Street, Marabella<br />

Tel: (868) 291-9745 | (868) 291-9785<br />

TOBAGO LP TB#95 Milford Rd, Canaan<br />

Tel: (868) 675-5555 ext.320<br />


Unit Q4 & Q5, Sagicor Industrial Complex,<br />

7 Norman Road, Kingston CSO, Jamaica, W.I.<br />

Tel: (876) 938-1379, (876) 928-9797<br />

Email: a.raymond@scl-group.com<br />


SALEM: Lighthouse, Salem, St. Ann, Jamaica.<br />

Tel: (876) 972-1969,930-0108<br />

GUYANA<br />

GNSC La Penitence Complex, Lot #1 Public<br />

Road, La Penitence, Georgetown, Guyana<br />

Tel: 592-227-6716<br />

Email: sales.sclguyana@scl-group.com

Growth and learning corner<br />

The Chamber's growth and learnING corner<br />

What have you read, watched or listened to lately that has<br />

contributed to your growth and development as a businessperson?<br />

Jason Julien<br />

Deputy Chief Executive Officer – Business Generation,<br />

First Citizens Bank Limited<br />

For the past three years, I have set a personal goal of reading at least<br />

one book per quarter. I actively seek out thought-provoking books, mostly<br />

biographies and non-fiction. One of my favourites is the memoir Educated, by<br />

Tara Westover.<br />

Home-schooled in rural Idaho, she did not step into a classroom till she was<br />

17. Through a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation scholarship she eventually<br />

attended Cambridge University, and in 2014 earned a PhD in History.<br />

Despite not receiving a formal education early in life, she became successful<br />

because of the way she looked at the world. She brought a fresh perspective to<br />

education, especially the way we interpret history.<br />

The history we are taught is determined by the person writing their interpretation<br />

of events. History is not simply accepting the facts presented to us: how<br />

we distil, analyse and critically examine those facts is essential to understanding<br />

and interpreting the world around us.<br />

What this has taught me as a leader is that we need to critically examine information presented to us<br />

by scrutinising the context, and dissecting and analysing. It is very easy to accept what is considered to be<br />

common knowledge without using common sense or critical thought. We should not be afraid to challenge<br />

accepted “truths” in the world – we need to be bold enough to critically analyse, assess and debate as independent<br />

thinkers<br />

Allison Demas<br />

Chief Executive Officer, Media InSite Limited;<br />

Chair, Nova Committee, Trinidad and Tobago<br />

Chamber of Industry and Commerce<br />

One of the most interesting books I have read was Michael E. Gerber’s The<br />

E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work, and What To<br />

Do About It.<br />

Given that Media InSite is a small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) and I am<br />

Chair of the Chamber’s NOVA Committee, I particularly recommend this book<br />

for SMEs.<br />

The main idea of the book is that entrepreneurs start businesses because they<br />

are passionate about something. They have a vision, and can see the big picture.<br />

But a lot of business owners tend to lose sight of this, and work in their business<br />

instead of on their business.<br />

Successful businesses need three elements: technical, which means operations;<br />

managerial (order and systems); and the outlook of the entrepreneur (the<br />

vision). So it is important for entrepreneurs to put processes and systems in<br />

place so that their team can pick up the manual and run the business.<br />

Reading this book made me realise that I have a vision for my company – to be the global leader in monitoring<br />

and measuring Caribbean media content – and that I need to take a step back and let others focus on<br />

operations, while I ensure that my vision is realised.<br />

chamber.org.tt<br />

SEPT 2019 31

Growth and learning corner<br />

The Chamber's growth and learning corner<br />

What have you read, watched or listened to lately that has<br />

contributed to your growth and development as a businessperson?<br />

Diane Hadad<br />

Managing Director, Jade Distributors Limited;<br />

Chair, Tobago Division, Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry<br />

and Commerce<br />

I have always been interested in human behaviour, especially when I consider how business is conducted<br />

today. I find that people are often not concerned about their reputations, and delivering work to a high standard.<br />

The link between human behaviour and how this impacts business fascinates me.<br />

I am also a strong advocate for gender equality, and I am always pursuing new knowledge in this area. As a<br />

woman in the workplace, I have observed many instances of the way we are conditioned to give men a certain<br />

amount of respect because of their gender. I believe that respect should be given based on a person’s ability to<br />

deliver to the standard required.<br />

This insight into gender relations in the workplace has allowed me to grow to another level where I now have<br />

more confidence in myself and my abilities.

Climate change<br />

Pushing back against<br />

climate change<br />

Extreme weather events are a solemn warning that business as usual is not<br />

an option for Trinidad and Tobago. Despite institutional inroads, there is a lot<br />

of work to be done if the risks to come are to be properly mitigated<br />

by Gerard Rajkumar<br />

Manager and Lead Consultant, Sygma Environmental<br />

“Over the last three decades, there has<br />

been an upward trend in temperatures”<br />

as measured by the Trinidad and Tobago<br />

Meteorological Service<br />

We are constantly being told that the climate of our world is changing.<br />

In 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that<br />

the costs of global warming are going to be far worse than expected, and that<br />

the impact on ecosystems, communities and economies will affect every single<br />

country and person on planet earth. We are already used to hearing of the<br />

devastating effects of extreme weather in our own region, not only at home<br />

but in other Caribbean territories (Figure 1).<br />

Frequency and average annual effects of natural disasters, 1990-2014<br />

2.5<br />

2.0<br />

1.5<br />

1.0<br />

0.5<br />

0.0<br />

Damage (% of GDP)<br />

Disaster frequency<br />

Affected population<br />

(% of total)<br />

Other States Small States Caribbean<br />

Source: EM-DAT; IMF (2016), "Small States' Resilience to Natural Disasters and<br />

Climate Change—Role for the IMF," IMF World Economic Outlook; World Bank, World<br />

Development Indicators; and authors' computations. *Disaster frequency: Average<br />

annual disasters per 1,000km 2<br />

Fig. 1: The Caribbean is highly exposed to natural disasters<br />

The University of the West<br />

Indies is leading a group of ten<br />

universities (two from each<br />

continent) working on the UN’s<br />

Sustainable Development Goal<br />

13: Climate Action<br />

Why is it, then, that climate change has not received greater recognition<br />

on the local landscape?<br />

Rather than alarm, there is even scepticism about the very existence of climate<br />

change, attributing extreme weather events to a naturally occurring global<br />

cycle, rather like the “El Nino” phenomenon.<br />

But science relies on data, and the story being told by the data is not a happy<br />

one.<br />

The mean economic damage expected for tropical storms in Trinidad<br />

and Tobago, considering different scenarios of climatic (regional sea level<br />

ALL Photography courtesy MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT AND WORKS<br />

chamber.org.tt<br />

SEPT 2019 33

Climate change<br />

rise and changes in the frequency of storm events)<br />

and vulnerability conditions, is shown in the table<br />

below. Scenarios S0 and S1 are those in which 2014’s<br />

vulnerability scenario is maintained, while in S2 and S3<br />

the future vulnerability scenario is considered.<br />

Fig 2: Expected annual damage for different scenarios due to tropical storms in<br />

Trinidad and Tobago<br />

Scenario<br />

SO 19.59<br />

S1 26.35<br />

S2 29.34<br />

S4 36.86<br />

Mean damage (million US$/year)<br />

Source: “Understanding the Economics of Climate Adaptation in Trinidad<br />

and Tobago”. Study coordinator: Gerard Alleng. Inter-American Development<br />

Bank, 2014. https://publications.iadb.org/en/publication/16851/<br />

understanding-economics-climate-adaptation-trinidad-and-tobago<br />

Impact of climate change<br />

The Trinidad and Tobago government’s Strategy for<br />

Reduction of Carbon Emissions in Trinidad and Tobago<br />

states that “there are several studies that found evidence<br />

of recent changes in the climate of T&T”. It goes on<br />

to say: “Over the last three decades, there has been<br />

an upward trend in temperatures” as measured by the<br />

Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service (TTMS).<br />

The National Climate Change Policy of 2011 spelled out<br />

our vulnerability by sector, each with its own imminent<br />

problems such as decreased crop yields and more vectorborne<br />

diseases and flooding.<br />

The floods experienced in the last couple of years,<br />

increased coastal erosion, a blurring of the start and end<br />

of our rainy and dry seasons, and this year’s declaration<br />

of drought, all indicate that climate change is more than<br />

academic hyperbole. The data explain why some of the<br />

school classrooms we once occupied are now enclosed and<br />

air-conditioned.<br />

Visually, anecdotally and mathematically, the evidence<br />

confronts us: climate change is here.<br />

Local developments<br />

In the face of this reality, the reaction has been mostly<br />

institutional.<br />

The Ministry of Planning and Development (MPD) has a<br />

Multilateral Environmental Agreements Unit. Its work has<br />

resulted in Trinidad and Tobago being the first country<br />

in the Caribbean to launch a monitoring, reporting and<br />

verification (MRV) system. The ministry has also launched<br />

a Knowledge Management System (KMS), along with a<br />

pilot project for the National Climate Mitigation MRV<br />

system.<br />

The academic community is also involved. The<br />

University of the West Indies (UWI) is leading a group of<br />

ten universities (two from each continent) working on the<br />

UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 13: Climate Action,<br />

mobilising research and advocacy for the achievement of<br />

a climate-smart world. UWI experts Dr Michael Taylor, Dr<br />

Leonard Nurse, and Professor John Agard are members<br />

of the IPCC itself. The University of Trinidad and Tobago<br />

(UTT) is also active in this area through staff and student<br />

research across several departments.<br />

34 SEPT 2019 chamber.org.tt

Climate change<br />

Trinidad and Tobago, as a signatory to the Paris<br />

Agreement on climate change, has committed to<br />

reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 15%<br />

by 2030<br />

Is climate change in<br />

the Caribbean real?<br />

••<br />

Mean surface temperatures in the<br />

Caribbean have increased by ~1.0<br />

degree Celsius over pre-industrial<br />

times. Warming is occurring at ~0.2<br />

degrees Celsius per decade. 1.5<br />

degrees C of warming may occur by<br />

2030 (IPCC, 2018)<br />

••<br />

Sea levels are rising at ~3 mm/<br />

year, and the rate of sea level rise is<br />

increasing (IPCC, 2013)<br />

••<br />

The Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic<br />

Ocean are becoming more acidic<br />

(SCOR, 2009)<br />

••<br />

Rainfall patterns are changing<br />

(Climate Studies Group UWI Mona)<br />

– more storms in the northern<br />

Caribbean and more droughts in the<br />

southern Caribbean<br />

••<br />

Migration and breeding habits of<br />

vectors (e.g. Aedes aegypti) are<br />

changing (Chadee, D. & Martinez, R.,<br />

2016)<br />

••<br />

Two Category 5 hurricanes hit the<br />

Caribbean in 2017 (unprecedented)<br />

••<br />

Dominica’s total damage and losses<br />

from Hurricane Maria in 2017 have<br />

been estimated at US$1.3 billion –<br />

about 226% of the country’s GDP.<br />

Losses for Anguilla, Bahamas, British<br />

Virgin Islands, St Maarten, and Turks<br />

& Caicos, following hurricanes Irma<br />

and Maria, have been estimated at<br />

US$5.4 billion (UNCTAD, 2018).<br />

Source: “Caribbean Perspectives of the Impact of<br />

Climate Change on Environmental Determinants<br />

of Health”, Hugh Sealy Ph.D., M.Sc., B.Eng., Windward<br />

Islands Research and Education Foundation (Windref)<br />

Research Fellow & Special Envoy, Government of<br />

Barbados, at the III Global Conference on Health and<br />

Climate Change, October 16 & 17, 2018, Grenada<br />

Trinidad and Tobago is a signatory to several multilateral<br />

environmental agreements, including the United Nations<br />

Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the<br />

Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement, the Vienna Convention<br />

and the Montreal Protocol.<br />

Several local energy companies make their own assessments<br />

of climate change, to determine the likely impact<br />

on their operations or to minimise their contribution to<br />

greenhouse gas emissions. The non-energy private sector too<br />

is starting to shoulder its environmental responsibility: Massy<br />

Stores, for example, the largest supermarket chain in the country, is promoting<br />

the use of reusable shopping bags by placing a disincentive cost on single-use<br />

plastic bags.<br />

Environmental action is beginning to build in pockets throughout the<br />

public and private sector, ranging from the Trinidad and Tobago Solid Waste<br />

Management Company Limited’s (SWMCOL’s) iCare Recycling Programme to<br />

car dealers offering vehicles not fuelled by gasoline.<br />

Championing mitigation<br />

As a signatory to the Paris Agreement on climate change, Trinidad and Tobago<br />

has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 15% by 2030. How<br />

can a business contribute to this process? Here are a few steps which firms can<br />

take.<br />

••<br />

Determine where you stand by measuring your carbon footprint. Results<br />

should be voluntarily reported to the MPD, to be included in the KMS and<br />

MRV.<br />

••<br />

Review your energy consumption behaviour. Servus Limited works with<br />

clients to manage their buildings with greater energy efficiency.<br />

••<br />

Implement recycling programmes at work, involving plastics, glass,<br />

tetrapaks (deposited in SWMCOL’s iCare bins), cans, and paper. Ace<br />

Recycling Limited offers a free paper/cardboard recycling service.<br />

••<br />

Reassess vehicle usage and incentivise car-pooling, employee group<br />

transport, and investment in hybrid or CNG-fuelled vehicles.<br />

••<br />

Use technology such as teleconferencing, virtual offices, and predictive<br />

modelling.<br />

••<br />

Get involved in a carbon-offsetting project such as tree-planting.<br />

As a nation, we should be guided by an overarching climate change framework.<br />

This should inform policy as it pertains to planning (building climate resilience),<br />

energy consumption (incorporating renewable energy, with the option to sell<br />

electricity back to the grid), transport and industry. Perhaps then our voice will<br />

be heard globally, setting the standard for other small-island developing nations<br />

to follow in resisting the intensification of climate change.<br />

chamber.org.tt<br />

SEPT 2019 35

Advertorial<br />

EXPORTING 101<br />

What is exporting?<br />

Exporting occurs when local manufacturers send their goods/services to a foreign country for trade or sale.<br />

Selling your products globally is a great way to expand your business. To be a successful exporter you first need<br />

to be fully prepared. This article will give new exporters and non-exporters who have intentions of becoming<br />

exporters, an overview of how this can be accomplished.<br />

Preparing for the world of exporting<br />

4 tips on how you, the new or non-exporter, can better prepare:<br />

1. A comprehensive export strategy is needed<br />

a. Identify what product/s you are going to sell.<br />

b. Identify where your products should be sold; proper<br />

research should be done regarding tariffs<br />

c. Choose your selling strategy:<br />

i. You can sell your products directly to the customer<br />

(you will solely be responsible for shipping,<br />

payments and servicing). OR<br />

ii. You can sell your products directly to a distributor<br />

and in turn, they will sell your products for a profit.<br />

OR<br />

iii. You can partner with a company in the country<br />

you’re exporting to, who may already have a<br />

distribution system in place. This can make your<br />

business affairs much easier.<br />

d. Necessary support for your products is needed, which<br />

will include service for products, warranties and<br />

returns. A good way to work around all the costs that<br />

may be incurred, will be to service your product locally,<br />

by creating an office providing service in the foreign<br />

country.<br />

e. Next step is protecting your Intellectual Property<br />

(Brand Name, Patents etc.). This is necessary to<br />

minimize risks. You can research this topic extensively<br />

on The Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal<br />

Affairs website (www.ag.gov.tt). There you will find<br />

all the required information on this topic and how to<br />

proceed.<br />

f. The last export strategy should be pricing of your<br />

products, which can be the most challenging. There<br />

are a few questions you should ask yourself before<br />

deciding:<br />

i. What price should your product sell for in the<br />

foreign market?<br />

ii. What would the customer’s perception be<br />

regarding the pricing structure?<br />

iii. Does the price reflect the quality of the product?<br />

iv. Is the price competitive?<br />

v. What options are available if your company’s costs<br />

increase or decrease?<br />

Other aspects of pricing can include market demand,<br />

competition, tariffs, currency fluctuation, transaction costs<br />

and taxes. Additionally, a request for quotation and pro<br />

forma invoices can do some damage as well.<br />

2. Review export and import regulations<br />

a. Due diligence should be exercised; do your research to<br />

determine if there are any restrictions with regard to<br />

exporting your goods from Trinidad and Tobago. There<br />

are two websites where you can obtain a consolidated<br />

list and guidance; www.finance.gov.tt (services<br />

» customs and excise) and https://tradeind.gov.tt<br />

(services » trade license unit).<br />

3. The next step – shipping your goods and the<br />

preparations involved<br />

a. First you need to find an appropriate freight forwarder<br />

to transport your goods. To do so, you need to answer<br />

some questions. Here are a few to get you started:<br />

i. What type of products are being exported?<br />

ii. Do the freight forwarder/s have a good reputation?<br />

iii. Is there anything you need to worry about<br />

concerning the company?<br />

b. You must be able to understand incoterms. Incoterms<br />

are codes used when shipping products overseas.<br />

You can access a complete list of incoterms online.<br />

4. Finally, don’t forget your finances. We at eximbank<br />

can fulfill your needs with the products we offer.<br />

These products include:<br />

a. Raw material financing<br />

b. Asset financing<br />

c. Factoring and discounting<br />

d. Export credit<br />

e. We also offer a forex facility.<br />

It is important to note that it is in your best interest to do all the preparations<br />

needed and gather all information necessary beforehand, to ensure a smooth<br />

process and subsequently, for you to have less to worry about.<br />

Export-Import Bank of Trinidad<br />

and Tobago Limited (Eximbank)<br />

Exim House<br />

#30 Queen’s Park West<br />

Port of Spain<br />

(868) 628-2762/1382<br />

eximbank@eximbanktt.com<br />


Innovation in business<br />

A well-oiled success:<br />

the CGA brand<br />

With a central mill in Laventille, CGA was established<br />

in 1937. Today it is the largest and most modern<br />

manufacturer of soaps, oils and margarines in the<br />

Caribbean. How does an 80-year old firm stay<br />

relevant? By embracing technology and innovation<br />

by Jeanette G. Awai<br />

Freelance writer<br />

CGA is the only indigenous<br />

manufacturer of soaps, edible<br />

oils, margarines and shortenings<br />

in Trinidad and Tobago<br />

CGA (Coconut Growers Association) Limited is the only indigenous<br />

manufacturer of soaps, edible oils, margarines and shortenings in<br />

Trinidad and Tobago.<br />

Any company should be satisfied with that achievement, but it wasn’t enough<br />

for Product Development Manager Gabrielle Agostini. She and her team have<br />

been working on the rebranding of CGA’s existing food and beauty product<br />

lines. Through the use of e-commerce, social media and customer feedback,<br />

CGA is moving from regional stalwart to competitive global brand. CGA’s<br />

initial objective was to assist coconut farmers to export copra (dried coconut<br />

meat) in the late 1940s. In the following decade, CGA went on to manufacture<br />

edible oils and margarines for use in cooking. After developing partnerships<br />

with Johnson & Johnson and Lever Brothers (Unilever), they started to produce<br />

soaps in the 1960s.<br />

The company has also focused heavily on its industrial food products such<br />

as its Masterline margarines and shortenings, which are used by 60% of local<br />

bakeries. Its industrial cooking oils are used by leading fast-food chains<br />

such as KFC, McDonald’s and Popeyes.<br />

Meeting global demand<br />

CGA’s ability to evolve has been the secret to its success from the start.<br />

The quest for expansion, however, has not been without challenges.<br />

In the past decade, the “coconut oil craze” stretched capacity in a bid<br />

to meet burgeoning demand. Maximising its longstanding relationships<br />

with farmers, the private sector and consumers, Agostini believes it is<br />

the right time to pivot resources in a manner which will meet the still<br />

swelling market demand.<br />

The 2017 coconut oil product investment profile by the Caribbean<br />

Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) states that “the North<br />

America Region, of which the Caribbean is a part, accounts for US$130 million<br />

in terms of export value for coconut oil, that is, 2% of the global coconut oil<br />

industry value”.<br />

This same region represents an import value for coconut oil of US$1.3<br />

billion. Agostini cites this importation of competing extra-regional products<br />

into Caricom markets, at exceptionally low prices, as one reason why CGA has<br />

ALL Photography courtesy CGA CARIBBEAN LTD.<br />

chamber.org.tt<br />

SEPT 2019 37

CGA's Product Development Manager,<br />

Gabrielle Agostini (left)<br />

not yet fully penetrated the global market. At the same time, meeting consumer<br />

demand for more sustainable, natural products and packaging is what Agostini<br />

believes sets them apart.<br />

A primary goal of the company is to<br />

reduce the environmental footprint of<br />

its products. All CGA’s raw materials<br />

and 98% of its packaging materials<br />

are recyclable<br />

Through the use of e-commerce,<br />

social media and customer feedback,<br />

CGA is moving from regional stalwart<br />

to competitive global brand<br />

Building a sustainable future<br />

“I worked on quite a few projects at CGA,” Agostini says, “including assisting<br />

with the rebranding of three soaps – Duet, d’OR and Every. I’ve also worked<br />

with my team on three margarines, Marigold, French Maid and Prize, known<br />

internationally as vegan butters due to the change in our formulations to match<br />

international vegan butter standards.<br />

“I was also part of the launch of the Constance Estate Infused Coconut Oils,<br />

available in garlic, lemon and chilli, as well as our latest brand, the Cedros Bay<br />

line of bath and body products. This is Trinidad and Tobago’s first all-natural,<br />

vegan, cruelty-free brand, made with 100%<br />

organic coconut oil from the Caribbean. We have<br />

made the product even more sustainable by using<br />

recyclable packaging, including biodegradable<br />

caps.”<br />

A primary goal of the company is to reduce<br />

the environmental footprint of its products.<br />

All CGA’s raw materials and 98% of their<br />

packaging materials are recyclable. This is<br />

achieved through collaboration with local<br />

companies such as ACE Recycling Limited and<br />

SWMCOL (the Trinidad and Tobago Solid Waste<br />

Management Company Limited).<br />

Through social media, CGA encourages customers<br />

to reuse their bottles and jars. “We hope one day<br />

to have a retail store where customers can upcycle<br />

our packaging materials by refilling the bottles and<br />

jars to reduce waste.” Agostini stresses that CGA<br />

is committed to ensuring that all its packaging<br />

materials are recyclable by 2020.<br />

Creating 100% vegan and cruelty-free products<br />

ensures that there is zero animal exploitation at the<br />

manufacturing and testing stages of production.<br />

According to Agostini, this is a key consideration<br />

for today’s consumers, and a market-conscious move<br />

for CGA operations.<br />

E-commerce drives sales<br />

Real-time engagement with customers and listening<br />

to feedback through social media have been central<br />

to the revitalisation of CGA’s brand.<br />

About CGA<br />

••<br />

Started in 1937 by an association<br />

of coconut farmers<br />

••<br />

Today, CGA has about 150<br />

employees<br />

••<br />

Its headquarters are on Eastern<br />

Main Road in Laventille, Trinidad<br />

••<br />

There CGA manufactures copra,<br />

coconut oil, margarine and soaps<br />

••<br />

CGA has more than 40 retail and<br />

industrial brands, and recently<br />

introduced a skincare line<br />

••<br />

In 1996, CGA was recognised as<br />

the exporter of the year by the<br />

Trinidad & Tobago Manufacturers’<br />

Association<br />

••<br />

CGA products can be found on<br />

the shelves of most Caricom<br />

countries, and in the USA and<br />

Canada<br />

••<br />

You can “Shop CGA” directly<br />

on the CGA website, https://<br />

cgacaribbean.com/. Products are<br />

also available on https://www.<br />

amazon.com/.<br />

The company has not only ventured into the digital world’s existing platforms,<br />

such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube: its own website includes an<br />

active blog and a shopping option. Agostini explains: “E-commerce has really<br />

helped us to increase sales. At the beginning of this year sales were moving slowly,<br />

but with the launch of Cedros Bay, they are starting to take off again.”<br />

What can other businesses learn from a leader of industry that’s branching off<br />

into new territory? Agostini advises: “You must know your audience. Customers are<br />

becoming more conscious of their environmental and ethical values, and are loyal<br />

to brands which reflect these.”<br />

Caring for the customer, the country and the environment – a well-oiled CGA is<br />

ready to take on the evolving future of business.<br />

38 SEPT 2019 chamber.org.tt

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top 5 facts<br />

Top 5 facts<br />

Taxation in Trinidad & Tobago<br />

by Rianna E. Paul<br />

Manager, Trade and Business Development Unit, Trinidad<br />

and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce<br />

In 2011 tax revenue contributed 76% of<br />

total revenue; while in 2018, according<br />

to the Revenue Estimates published by<br />

the Ministry of Finance, it contributed an<br />

estimated 60% of total revenue<br />

1. What was the shortfall in tax revenue between 2011 and 2018?<br />

Revenue from taxes is the largest contributor to government revenue. It comprises<br />

tax on income and profits, goods and services, international trade, and<br />

other taxes such as property taxes.<br />

In 2011 tax revenue contributed 76% of total revenue, while in 2018, according<br />

to the Revenue Estimates published by the Ministry of Finance, it contributed<br />

an estimated 60% of total revenue.<br />

Tax from income and profits usually accounts for the largest share of total<br />

revenue from taxation. This sub-component comprises payments from oil and<br />

other companies, individuals, withholding tax, insurance surrender tax, business<br />

levy and health surcharge.<br />

Revenue from taxes on property continue to be minimal as the new property<br />

tax regime has yet to be implemented.<br />

2. What has been the impact of the fall in energy prices on T&T’s tax<br />

revenue?<br />

The early 2000s were characterised by rising oil prices. Between 2011 and mid-<br />

2014 oil prices danced around US$105 per barrel. However, the collapse of<br />

global oil prices saw this halved as prices dropped to around US$50 per barrel 1 .<br />

Up to 2015, taxes collected from oil companies accounted for the largest share<br />

of taxes from income and profits. For comparison, in 2009 taxes collected from<br />

oil companies were TT$11.8 billion, while in 2016 taxes collected from oil companies<br />

amounted to TT$1.03 billion 2 .<br />

In 2015, VAT amounted to TT$7<br />

billion, while in 2017 it totalled<br />

TT$5 billion<br />

3. What is the largest contributor to taxes on goods and services?<br />

Value Added Tax (VAT) is the most significant contributor to taxes on the goods<br />

and services component of overall tax revenue. In 2015, VAT amounted to TT$7<br />

billion, while in 2017 it totalled TT$5 billion.<br />

However, VAT refunds to businesses have been a contentious issue. Many<br />

businesses state that they wait over 24 months for refunds. According to the<br />

Ministry of Finance, VAT refunds of TT$4.2 billion were paid in 2017.<br />

4. What are the contributions of tax amnesties in T&T?<br />

Tax amnesties are tools used by governments to collect outstanding taxes. Taxpayers<br />

are given a window to pay outstanding taxes in exchange for forgiveness<br />

of tax liabilities, such as interest and penalties.<br />

The most recent tax amnesty was announced in the mid-year budget review<br />

on 13 May 2019. Through this, the government expects to collect TT$500 million<br />

in outstanding taxes.<br />

Prior to this, according to the Ministry of Finance in 2016, TT$750 million in<br />

outstanding taxes was collected.<br />

chamber.org.tt<br />

SEPT 2019 41

top 5 facts<br />

Top 5 facts<br />

Table 1: Tax structures of countries with high share of income taxes, 2015 (%)<br />

Country Personal<br />

income tax<br />

Corporate<br />

income tax<br />

Social security<br />

contribution<br />

Value added<br />

tax<br />

Other goods<br />

& services<br />

Other taxes<br />

Tax-to-GDP<br />

ratio<br />

Denmark 55.2 5.6 0.1 20.0 11.6 7.5 45.9<br />

United States 40.5 8.5 23.7 0.0 17.0 10.3 26.2<br />

Canada 36.9 9.9 15.1 13.2 9.9 15.1 32.0<br />

South Africa 33.4 16.4 1.4 23.8 16.5 8.5 29.0<br />

Finland 30.2 4.9 28.9 20.6 11.8 3.5 43.9<br />

Sweden 29.1 6.9 22.4 20.9 7.2 13.6 43.3<br />

Norway 27.9 11.5 27.3 21.4 9.0 2.9 38.3<br />

United Kingdom<br />

27.7 7.5 18.7 21.2 11.7 13.1 32.5<br />

Mexico 20.6 20.1 13.9 23.9 14.7 6.8 16.2<br />

Trinidad and 16.9 44.0 9.3 15.7 10.2 3.9 30.6<br />

Tobago<br />

Singapore 16.6 25.6 0.0 18.6 13.1 26.1 13.6<br />

Malaysia 14.8 42.5 1.6 15.2 16.5 9.3 15.3<br />

Phillipines 13.7 25.2 14.0 13.1 26.0 8.1 17.0<br />

Source: Domestic Revenue Mobilisation: A New Database on Tax Levels and Structures in 80 Countries. OECD Taxation Working Papers 2018<br />

Taxes are a critical domestic revenue source, and fluctuations<br />

can have a significant impact on social and economic conditions.<br />

A 2018 paper published by the Organisation for Economic<br />

Cooperation and Development (OECD) compares the domestic<br />

tax structures of 80 countries.<br />

For the majority of the selected countries in Table 1, personal<br />

income tax (PIT) accounts for the major share, with the exception<br />

of Trinidad and Tobago, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines.<br />

For these three countries corporate income tax (CIT),<br />

which includes oil tax revenue, generates two to three times<br />

as much revenue as PIT. The second largest contributor is tax<br />

revenue from goods and services, of which value added tax is<br />

the major component, the exceptions being Malaysia and the<br />

Philippines.<br />

➤<br />

Up to 2015, taxes collected from oil<br />

companies accounted for the largest share<br />

of taxes from income and profits<br />

5. Have there been any changes to the tax landscape<br />

in T&T over the last 5 years?<br />

In 2017, T&T moved away from a flat tax rate of 25% for<br />

individuals, by introducing a new tax bracket of 30% for<br />

those whose chargeable income exceeds TT$1 million per<br />

annum and for companies with chargeable profits also in<br />

excess of TT$1 million per annum.<br />

In Trinidad and Tobago, the 7% Online Purchase Tax<br />

(OPT) has been in effect since 20 October 2016. When the<br />

OPT was introduced, it was estimated that it would generate<br />

TT$70 million in revenue for fiscal year 2017. However,<br />

the Ministry of Finance reported that it only collected an<br />

estimated TT$22 million. As a result, the estimates for 2018<br />

and 2019 have been revised to TT$28 million 3 .<br />

References<br />

1<br />

Review of the Economy 2015, Ministry of Finance, http://finance.gov.tt/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/ROE-2015.pdf<br />

2<br />

Estimates of Revenue, various years, Ministry of Finance, www.finance.gov.tt<br />

3<br />

Estimates of Revenue, various years, Ministry of Finance, www.finance.gov.tt<br />

chamber.org.tt<br />

SEPT 2019 43

Energy update<br />

Energy update<br />

by Reagan Stroude<br />

Research Officer, Trade and Business Development Unit,<br />

Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce<br />

Local crude oil and natural gas production and usage<br />

➤ Comparing the first two months of<br />

2018 and 2019, it can be seen in Figure 1<br />

that HPCL (land) has slipped to the 3rd spot<br />

as a result of a decrease in average output<br />

of the period. It is important to note that<br />

during Q4 of 2018, the domestic oil<br />

refinery was closed, leading to oil imports<br />

being halted for that time period; this is<br />

shown in Figure 2.<br />

Fig. 1: Top oil producers (avg. bopd)<br />

Jan-Feb<br />

2018<br />

19,587<br />

11,788<br />

10,071<br />

Jan-Feb<br />

2019<br />

14,116<br />

10,073<br />

9,743<br />

HPCL (offshore)<br />

HPCL (land)<br />

Perenco<br />

HPCL (offshore)<br />

Perenco<br />

HPCL (land)<br />

Fig. 2: Imports vs exports of crude oil (barrels)<br />

5,008,666<br />

1,641,759<br />

N/A<br />

3,662,078<br />

Jan-Feb<br />

2018<br />

Jan-Feb<br />

2019<br />

Imports<br />

Exports<br />

Imports<br />

Exports<br />

➤ As can be seen in Figure 1, when<br />

comparing Jan - Feb data from 2018<br />

and 2019, between the top three<br />

producers there was an average decline<br />

in oil production of approximately 18%.<br />

Over the same time period there was a<br />

modest decrease in natural gas output of<br />

approximately -0.008% (Figure 4); which<br />

can be considered negligible. Figure 3 also<br />

shows that the LNG sector continues to<br />

be the major user of natural gas locally,<br />

accounting for an average 58% of total<br />

production.<br />

Fig. 3: Natural gas utilisation by sector<br />

Jan-Feb 2019 (avg. mmscf/d)<br />

3,614<br />

LNG<br />

2111<br />

Ammonia<br />

607<br />

Methanol<br />

541<br />

Power<br />

244<br />

Iron & Steel<br />

50<br />

Other<br />

61<br />

Fig. 4: Top local natural gas producers<br />

Jan-Feb (avg. mmscf/d)<br />

2018<br />

2019<br />

2,173<br />

BPTT<br />

2,026<br />

BPTT<br />

552<br />

Shell<br />

729<br />

Shell<br />

527<br />

EOG<br />

471<br />

EOG<br />

Source: MEEI Consolidated Reports 2018 & 2019<br />

44 SEPT 2019 chamber.org.tt

Energy update<br />

Comparing the first two months of 2018 and 2019's production<br />

and export levels for energy and downstream products<br />

2018<br />

2019<br />

➤ A comparison between 2018 and<br />

2019 shows that monthly natural gas<br />

production levels improved drastically in<br />

February of 2019, when compared with<br />

both January 2019 and February 2018.<br />

➤ Crude oil condensate production over<br />

the first two months of 2019 remained<br />

deflated when compared with 2018 figures.<br />

Thousands<br />

4.0<br />

3.9<br />

3.8<br />

3.7<br />

3.6<br />

3.5<br />

Natural gas production (mmscf/d)<br />

70<br />

68<br />

64<br />

62<br />

60<br />

58<br />

56<br />

54<br />

Crude oil condensate production (bopd)<br />

➤ With the exception of urea downstream<br />

products showed improvements<br />

over their 2018 values for the periods<br />

shown.<br />

3.4<br />

January February<br />

Ammonia production (mega tonnes)<br />

52<br />

January February<br />

Ammonia exports (mega tonnes)<br />

Thousands<br />

500<br />

450<br />

400<br />

350<br />

300<br />

250<br />

200<br />

150<br />

100<br />

50<br />

0<br />

January<br />

February<br />

500<br />

450<br />

400<br />

350<br />

300<br />

250<br />

200<br />

150<br />

100<br />

50<br />

0<br />

January<br />

February<br />

Methanol production (mega tonnes)<br />

Methanol exports (mega tonnes)<br />

Thousands<br />

490<br />

600<br />

480<br />

470<br />

500<br />

460<br />

400<br />

450<br />

440<br />

300<br />

430<br />

420<br />

200<br />

410<br />

100<br />

400<br />

390 0<br />

January February<br />

January<br />

February<br />

Urea production (mega tonnes)<br />

Urea exports (mega tonnes)<br />

70 70<br />

60 60<br />

50 50<br />

Thousands<br />

40 40<br />

30 30<br />

20 20<br />

10 10<br />

0 0<br />

January February<br />

January<br />

February<br />

Source: MEEI Consolidated Report 2018 & 2019<br />

chamber.org.tt<br />

SEPT 2019<br />


Economic outlook<br />

Economic outlook<br />

by Kimberly Browne<br />

Project Assistant, Trade and Business<br />

Development Unit, Trinidad and Tobago<br />

Chamber of Industry and Commerce<br />

Although the crisis in Venezuela continues to present<br />

risks for Latin American countries, growth predictions<br />

for the Caribbean remain positive. In light<br />

of this, how is Trinidad and Tobago’s economy<br />

performing? What has been the Petrotrin impact?<br />

1<br />

Latin America<br />

Latin America continues to face a challenging external<br />

environment and a level of political uncertainty which<br />

seems to weigh on its economic outlook. Growth is<br />

expected to be driven by slightly stronger growth in Brazil,<br />

with a smaller drag from Argentina. On the other hand,<br />

the crisis in Venezuela presents risks to Latin American<br />

countries and the Caribbean (LAC).<br />

In Brazil, improved accommodative monetary policy<br />

should help fuel the country’s acceleration, while reform<br />

uncertainty, and low external demand for Brazil’s goods<br />

and services, will limit the potential for high economic<br />

growth.<br />

Argentina continues to experience macroeconomic<br />

rebalancing as it is projected to revert to positive growth<br />

in 2020. The effects of financial market pressures fade<br />

whilst stubbornly elevated inflation and political risk<br />

persist. Additionally, Argentina experienced slowing<br />

economic activity in January and February, though the<br />

government reported a primary surplus of 0.1% of GDP in<br />

the first quarter, reversing last year’s deficit and beating<br />

its target of a primary balance of 0.0% of GDP.<br />

2<br />

There is evidence that trade diversion, following the<br />

imposition of bilateral tariffs by the United States and<br />

China, has benefited some LAC countries, mainly Brazil<br />

and Mexico. However, export orders in some large<br />

economies have moderated in recent months, consistent<br />

with weakening global trade growth.<br />

The Caribbean<br />

3<br />

Trade in the region continues to expand. Goods export<br />

volumes have grown steadily since early 2018, recently<br />

overtaking import growth.<br />

4<br />

The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), notwithstanding<br />

the prediction of deceleration in global economic<br />

activity, describes the 2019 economic outlook for<br />

its borrowing member countries (BMCs) as positive,<br />

forecasting economic growth of over 2%.<br />

The CDB has stressed that the Caribbean’s susceptibility<br />

to multiple conditions, such as Britain’s continued<br />

attempts to leave the European Union and the economic<br />

retardation in China, along with its vulnerability to<br />

weather-related events, needs to be discussed to enhance<br />

the delivery of significant social and economic projects.<br />

As we move through 2019’s hurricane season, countries<br />

such as Barbuda, Dominica and St Martin are<br />

examples of the devastation that natural disasters can<br />

cause. Any regional assessment must factor in that a<br />

strong economy today can quickly become embattled<br />

because circumstances can change suddenly. Beyond the<br />

environment, there are other hurdles which can obstruct<br />

the Caribbean’s family economic growth as a whole.<br />

The CDB also announced that Barbados is the sole BMC<br />

in which economic activity is not anticipated to improve<br />

in 2019, and that continuous fiscal retrenchment is<br />

foreseen to erode its well-known tourism reputation.<br />

World Bank (WB) analysts expect growth in Latin<br />

America and the Caribbean to be subdued in 2019, at 1.7%,<br />

reflecting challenging conditions in several of the largest<br />

economies. Gradually, building momentum in Brazil and<br />

recovery in Argentina are projected to contribute to a<br />

pickup in regional growth to 2.5% in 2020 and 2.7% in<br />

2021 5 (see table 1 below).<br />

Table 1: Latin America and the Caribbean — real GDP growth at market prices (%)<br />

Latin America &<br />

the Caribbean<br />

Year-end<br />

Projected<br />

2017 2018 2019 2020 2021<br />

0.8% 0.6% 1.7% 2.5% 2.7%<br />

Source: "Global Economic Prospects, Latin America and The Caribbean.” The World Bank, World<br />

Bank Group Flagship Report, June 2019.<br />

The domestic landscape (Trinidad and Tobago)<br />

6<br />

Crime continues to stifle growth, with 118 murders<br />

reported in the first three months of 2019. While down<br />

13% y/y, this brought the 12-month rolling total to 500<br />

in March 2019 from March 2018.<br />

An exchange offer for Petrotrin 2019 and 2022 bonds<br />

was announced, rolling the debt out to 2026 and removing<br />

guarantees. It is unclear where the cash will come from to<br />

pay bondholders opting not to accept the offer.<br />

The petroleum sector directly accounted for 26.1% of<br />

GDP in 2018, up from 22.5% in 2017. Meanwhile, the<br />

index of economic activity has posted 12 consecutive<br />

quarters of decline. International reserves were down 8%<br />

y/y in March 2019, at US$7.35 billion or 8.3 months of<br />

imports.<br />

The Minister of Finance stated in the mid-year budget<br />

review that the decision to expand fiscal expenditure by<br />

TT$300 million drove the deficit to TT$7.6 billion or 4.8%<br />

46 SEPT 2019 chamber.org.tt

Economic outlook<br />

Growth has weakened in most advanced<br />

economies, especially those where trade<br />

and manufacturing play an important role,<br />

such as Germany and Japan, with GDP<br />

growth projected to be below 1% in both<br />

countries this year<br />

The Caribbean Development Bank,<br />

notwithstanding the prediction of<br />

deceleration in global economic<br />

activity, describes the 2019<br />

economic outlook for its borrowing<br />

member countries (BMCs) as<br />

positive, forecasting economic<br />

growth of over 2%<br />

The IMF is projecting growth at<br />

0.01% for 2019, then averaging 1.8%<br />

through to 2023. Trinidad and Tobago<br />

maintains its projection of average<br />

growth of 1% in 2019 to 2020<br />

of GDP, while gross public sector debt already stood at 78.3% of GDP in 2018 7 .<br />

The Central Bank’s 2018 Annual Economic Survey stated: “According to initial<br />

projections from the Central Statistical Office (CSO), real GDP grew by 1.9% in<br />

2018 after declining by 1.9% in 2017.” 8<br />

The IMF is projecting growth at 0.01% for 2019 (revised downward in April<br />

2019 from the previous forecast of 0.9%), then averaging 1.8% through to<br />

2023. Trinidad and Tobago maintains its projection of average growth of 1%<br />

in 2019 to 2020.<br />

9<br />

Global outlook<br />

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development<br />

(OECD), trade and investment have slowed sharply, especially in Europe and<br />

Asia. Business and consumer confidence have faltered, with manufacturing<br />

production contracting.<br />

In response, financial conditions have eased as central banks have moved<br />

towards more accommodative monetary stances, while fiscal policy has been<br />

providing stimulus in a handful of countries.<br />

Trade tensions are taking a toll, and global growth is projected to slow to<br />

only 3.2% this year before edging up to 3.4% in 2020, well below the growth<br />

rates seen over the past three decades, or even in 2017-2018.<br />

Growth has weakened in most advanced economies, especially those where<br />

trade and manufacturing play an important role, such as Germany and Japan,<br />

with GDP growth projected to be below 1% in both countries this year. In<br />

contrast, the United States has maintained its momentum thanks to sizeable,<br />

albeit waning, fiscal support.<br />

Divergence is also visible among emerging-market economies, with Turkey<br />

struggling to recover from recession, while India and others are benefitting<br />

from easier financial conditions and in some instances fiscal or quasi-fiscal<br />

support.<br />

The global economy remains largely dependent on persistent policy support.<br />

With a few exceptions, emerging-market economies have kept large reserve<br />

buffers. In short, central banks have barely normalised the monetary policy<br />

stance and their support remains essential.<br />

The outlook remains weak, and there are many downside risks that cast a<br />

dark shadow over the global economy and people’s well-being.<br />

Finally, private sector debt is growing fast in major economies. The global<br />

stock of non-financial corporate bonds has almost doubled in real terms<br />

compared with 2008, at close to US$13 trillion, and the quality of debt has<br />

been deteriorating, including a heightened stock of leveraged loans. A new bout<br />

of financial stress could erupt.<br />

References<br />

1<br />

FocusEconomics. “Latin America Economic Outlook | Data, Statistics & Forecasts | Focus Economics.” Focus Economics | Economic Forecasts from the World's Leading Economists,<br />

15 May 2019, www.focus-economics.com/regions/latin-america<br />

2<br />

“Global Economic Prospects, Latin America and The Caribbean.” The World Bank, World Bank Group Flagship Report, June 2019.<br />

3<br />

“Global Economic Prospects, Latin America and The Caribbean.” The World Bank, World Bank Group Flagship Report, June 2019.<br />

4<br />

“CDB Predicts Economic Growth for the Caribbean.” Caribbean Development Bank, 12 June 2019, www.caribbeannewsnow.com/2019/06/12/cdb-predicts-economic-growth-forthe-caribbean/.<br />

5<br />

“Global Economic Prospects, Latin America and The Caribbean.” The World Bank, World Bank Group Flagship Report, June 2019.<br />

6<br />

Dukharan, Marla. “Marla Dukharan Caribbean Economist: May 2019.” Marla Dukharan Caribbean Economist, Marla Dukharan and GNM Group, LLC, May 2019, marladukharan.com/<br />

wp-content/uploads/2019/05/2019-05-Caribbean-Monthly-Report.pdf.<br />

7<br />

Imbert, Colm. Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago 2019 MID YEAR BUDGET REVIEW. 13 May 2019, Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.<br />

8<br />

“Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago Annual Economic Survey.” Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago, 2019, www.central-bank.org.tt/sites/default/files/page-file-uploads/annualeconomic-survey-2018_2.pdf.<br />

9<br />

Boone, Laurence. “Editorial: A Fragile Global Economy Needs Urgent Cooperative Action.” OECD Instance, 21 May 2019, www.oecd-ilibrary.org/sites/b2e897b0-en/index.html?ite<br />

mId=%2Fcontent%2Fpublication%2Fb2e897b0-en.<br />

chamber.org.tt<br />

SEPT 2019 47

The Chamber and its members<br />

Welcome, new members!<br />

The Chamber extends a warm welcome to companies and individuals who have become members in recent months<br />

Allison George<br />

639-5263<br />

(Tobago)<br />

Bayshore Finance T&T Limited<br />

235-5626<br />

natalieb@bayshorefinancett.com<br />

Exeqtech Limited<br />

Civil engineering and<br />

specialised construction<br />

624-1140<br />

mcontant@exeqtech.com<br />

Furness Trinidad Limited<br />

Financial, manufacturing<br />

and services sectors<br />

627-4959<br />

furness@furnessgroup.com<br />

Genesis Insurance Brokers<br />

& Benefit Consultants Limited<br />

Insurance brokerage and consultancy<br />

235-4067<br />

businessdev@genesistt.com<br />

Hugh Ferreira<br />

Publishing<br />

633-3916<br />

lanny5052@gmail.com<br />

iCreate Events Limited<br />

Event management<br />

623-9578<br />

roxanne@icreateeventstt.com<br />

Keystone Designs Limited<br />

Marketing consultancy, corporate training<br />

270-2803<br />

keystonedesignsltd@gmail.com<br />

800 Tech Limited<br />

Technology services provider<br />

223-8324<br />

scofield@800-tech.com<br />

TRICON<br />

Building maintenance and cleaning services<br />

226-1991<br />

johan.grosberg@tricon-tt.com<br />


Nicole Rostant<br />

a3farmslimted@gmail.com<br />

48 SEPT 2019 chamber.org.tt


top ten BEST SELLING RUM<br />

top TEN trending RUM<br />

2019<br />

as voted by the world’s best bars<br />

2019<br />

as voted by the world’s best bars

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