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Vol.19 No.4 – December 2019

The Voice of Business in Trinidad & ToBago




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Vol.19 No.4 – December 2019

The Voice of Business in Trinidad & ToBago

Vol.19 No.4 – December 2019


Business profile: Jacqueline Francois extends

her father’s legacy 27

Jade Cumberbatch talks to Jacqueline Francois about

her career, her volunteer work and pharmaceutical giant

Oscar Francois’ 60-year milestone

The Chamber’s growth

and learning corner 31

Three business leaders tell CONTACT what they have been

reading as they seek to continually expand their horizons

Volunteers and staff of the Ministry of Planning and

Development clean up Chacachacare Island during the

2016 International Coastal Clean-up campaign (Courtesy

the Ministry of Planning and Development)

Editor’s note 7

Natalie Dookie introduces this issue of CONTACT

Special Section

2030: the next decade

Vision 2030: preparing for the five-year

milestone 8

Kay Baldeosingh-Arjune interviews the Minister of Planning

and Development, Camille Robinson-Regis, to assess Trinidad

and Tobago’s performance in the short-term

Lessons from Vision 2020 14

We look back at Vision 2020 with Kevin Baldeosingh, who

undertakes a personal assessment of what worked, what did

not, and why

Preparing for the world of 2030 16

Global mega-trends will dictate energy use, demographics,

technology and the environment. Natalie Dookie considers

the impact on Trinidad and Tobago

The value of corporate governance 34

Shelly Ann Mohammed, Head, ACCA Caribbean, analyses the

local corporate governance environment, and shares ACCA’s

latest research on the subject

Innovation in business: meet the food

innovators 37

Jeanette Awai takes us through the journey from idea

to concept of local food manufacturers Slimdown 360

and Del Mano Food

Top 5 facts about shipping in

Trinidad and Tobago 40

Logistics and transportation experts Ramps Logistics test our

knowledge about Trinidad and Tobago’s shipping industry

Economic outlook 43

The Chamber’s analyst examines the global, regional and

domestic economic landscape, and forecasts end of year


Energy update 46

How is Trinidad and Tobago’s oil and gas sector performing?

The Chamber reviews recent data

Welcome to new members 48

The Chamber extends a warm greeting to members who

recently joined

The voice of business: investing in Trinidad

& Tobago 22

CONTACT talks to the Chamber’s president and other

business leaders about the local investment climate

On the cover:

2030: the next decade.

The rising cost of crime 24

Security & risk consultant Pauline Hamilton maps how

the increasing cost of crime is impacting the private sector

across the Caribbean and in Trinidad and Tobago




4 DECEMBER 2019 chamber.org.tt


The voice of business in Trinidad & Tobago

Published by

The Trinidad and Tobago Chamber

of Industry and Commerce

Business profile

Columbus Circle, Westmoorings, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago

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

Email: chamber@chamber.org.tt • Website: www.chamber.org.tt

Tobago Division:

ANSA McAL Building, Milford Road, Scarborough, Tobago

Tel: (868) 639-2669 • Fax: (868) 639-2669

Email: tobagochamber@chamber.org.tt

Produced for the Chamber by

MEP Publishers (Media & Editorial Projects Ltd)

6 Prospect Avenue, Maraval, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago

Tel: (868) 622-3821 • Fax: (868) 628-0639

Email: info@meppublishers.com • Website: www.meppublishers.com


Online editor

General manager

Page layout & design



Editorial assistants

Natalie Dookie

Caroline Taylor

Halcyon Salazar

Tricia Dukhie

Evelyn Chung, Tracy Farrag,

Joanne Pennie, Indra Ramcharan

Jacqueline Smith

Shelly-Ann Inniss,

Kristine De Abreu


Opinions expressed in CONTACT are those of the authors, and

not necessarily of the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry

and Commerce or its partners or associates.

CONTACT is published quarterly by the Trinidad and Tobago

Chamber of Industry and Commerce (TTCIC). It is available online at


©2019 TTCIC. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may

be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the publisher.


Discover the

power of ethics

Ethics is having a more powerful impact

on business and society than ever

before. And consumer and government

focus on ethics and sustainability is

sharper than ever before.

ACCA members are trusted because

their ethical training is unsurpassed.

That makes them essential to business

success, today and tomorrow.

Find resources on the power of ethics at accaglobal.com/ethics

6 DECEMBER 2019 chamber.org.tt

Editor’s note

Editor’s note

In this issue of CONTACT,

we explore these issues and more

in 2030: the next decade. Firstly,

we examine Trinidad and Tobago’s

Vision 2030 plan as we prepare

for the first five-year milestone.

We look back at lessons learnt from

the 2020 plan, and anticipate

the mega-trends of tomorrow

and how these will impact

Trinidad and Tobago

From problem to plan – that’s the theme of South Africa’s 2030 national

development plan (NDP). It quite simply captures the basis of most NDPs,

which identify national challenges and propose corresponding solutions, thereby

transforming economies.

An August 2019 study on NDPs, authored by Admos O. Chimhowua, David

Hulmeb and Lauchlan T. Munroc, states that over 130 countries have produced

national development plans to show their priorities for achieving the UN’s 17

sustainable development goals. That’s more than double the number of global

plans in existence a decade ago. Many plans are a product of national consensus

processes, although some are produced mainly by technocratic elites. The fiveyear

(medium term) plan is the most popular, although some countries have

longer term vision documents. The majority of national plans lack financing

strategies, a factor that can affect implementation and achievement.

There are a number of reasons why development plans fail: lack of political

will and buy-in, inadequate data and planning capacity, and constrained

resources, mainly financial.

However, despite these challenges, the study states that we are in a new era

of national development planning, “in which plan documents are no longer

an end in themselves but are seen as part of a process of communicating and

negotiating national ideals with internal and external audiences.” Today’s plans

are also more closely linked to global ideals, increasing their chance of success.

In this issue of CONTACT, we explore these issues and more in “2030: The

Next Decade". Firstly, we examine Trinidad and Tobago’s Vision 2030 plan as

we review the first five years. We look back at lessons learnt from the 2020

plan, and anticipate the mega-trends of tomorrow and how these will impact

Trinidad and Tobago.

In “The Voice of Business” you will hear from the Chamber’s president and

other business leaders on investing in Trinidad and Tobago. We consider how

the rising cost of crime is impacting the business community; and Jacqueline

Francois tells the compelling story of the rise of Oscar Francois Limited in this

issue’s business profile.

“The Chamber’s Learning and Growth Corner” speaks to three business

leaders about what they are reading. ACCA analyses the corporate governance

environment in Trinidad and Tobago, and we meet two new food innovators –

Slimdown 360 and Del Mano Food. Read our “Top 5 Facts” about shipping in

Trinidad and Tobago.

The Chamber examines the economic outlook for Latin America and the

Caribbean, and analyses the local energy sector’s performance. We also welcome

the Chamber’s new members.

We look forward to your feedback on this issue: let us know your thoughts

on Trinidad and Tobago’s national development planning process.

Natalie Dookie, Editor



Business profile

Courtesy the Ministry of Planning and Development

8 DECEMBER 2019 chamber.org.tt

2030: the next decade

Vision 2030: the first five years

The goal of Vision 2030

is to improve the quality

of life of the people

“A fundamental aspect of Trinidad

and Tobago achieving developed

nation status is the need to adopt

positive values, attitudes and

behaviours which can support

and catalyse our development. We

must, for example, place greater

emphasis on productivity and

improving our work ethos, respect

for the rule of law and increasing

our innovative capacity. The more

we adopt these values, the faster

we transform society and improve

our competitiveness ranking. We

have been making noted progress

in the areas of increased evidencedbased

decision-making through

the establishment of a national

monitoring and evaluation system,

encouraging innovation, promoting

citizen participation in tackling

development issues affecting them,

and advocating environmental care

and cultural harmony in diversity.”

The Hon. Camille Robinson-Regis

Minister of Planning and Development,

Trinidad and Tobago

Camille Robinson-Regis,

Minister of Planning and

Development, Trinidad and


Trinidad and Tobago’s national development

strategy, Vision 2030, completes its first

five-year segment in 2020. What has been

achieved to date? The Minister of Planning and

Development, Camille Robinson-Regis, answers

CONTACT’s questions

by Kay Baldeosingh-Arjune

Freelance writer

What are the basic principles of Vision 2030?

Vision 2030, our national development strategy, lays the foundation for Trinidad

and Tobago to reach developed nation status by the year 2030. It is based

on five principles:

• Every citizen is valued and has equal opportunity to achieve

their fullest potential

• All citizens will enjoy a high quality of life, with healthcare

available to all

• All citizens are assured a sound, relevant education system

• The family is the foundation of the society

• The diversity and creativity of the people is valued and nurtured.

Five development themes are the pillars that support Vision 2030:

(1) Putting people first: nurturing our greatest assets

(2) Delivering good governance and service excellence

(3) Improving productivity through quality infrastructure and transport

(4) Building globally competitive businesses

(5) Placing the environment at the centre of social and economic


Each thematic area has actionable and achievable goals, such as improved

health and poverty eradication; strong and independent democratic

institutions; superior infrastructure and transport systems; a globally

competitive economy; and a climate-smart environment.




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10 DECEMBER 2019 chamber.org.tt

2030: the next decade

Vision 2030 successes to date

The biggest achievements at year-end

2019 in connection with Vision 2030

goals include:

1. Rehabilitation and refurbishment

of several existing health and

educational facilities across the


2. Ongoing construction of new

homes and apartments, community

swimming pools and community


3. Development of a National Children’s


4. The establishment of two new

Children’s Courts (Trinidad and Tobago

was the first Caricom country to open

such facilities, in 2018).

5. Development of a robust legislative

agenda including:

• The Administration of Justice

(Indictable Proceedings)

(Amendment) Bill, 2018

• The Miscellaneous Provisions

(Proceeds of Crime, Anti-

Terrorism and Financial

Intelligence Unit of Trinidad

and Tobago) Bill, 2018

• The Civil Asset Recovery and

Management and Unexplained

Wealth Bill, 2019.

6. Completion of the Trade Licence

Unit digitisation process which will

eliminate the use of paper-based

files and shorten waiting times. The

provision of e-government services

under the Single Electronic Window

(SEW), such as company registration,

goods declaration and import duty

concession, will reduce business

transaction time.

7. Trinidad and Tobago is the first

Caribbean country, and the second

small island developing state, to

submit its emissions target. This

stipulates a 15% reduction in

cumulative CO 2 emissions from

industry, transportation and power

generation by the year 2030.

8. Development of the legal framework

for a national monitoring, reporting

and verification system for tracking

greenhouse gas emissions and

mitigation actions. This will be

fully implemented following the

completion of a pilot testing phase in


Courtesy the Ministry of Planning and Development

By 2020 we expect to achieve a number of

key milestones which will address our main

national challenges, including low productivity,

weak institutions, crime, traffic congestion,

pollution and climate change

What key milestones does the government expect to achieve in

2020 that will affect the business sector?

By 2020 we expect to reach several key milestones which will address our

main national challenges, including low productivity, weak institutions, crime,

traffic congestion, pollution and climate change. These will positively impact

the business sector. They include:

• Addressing the skills gaps in the workforce

• Reducing the most problematic factors for doing business

• Increasing access to timely and accurate data to inform decisionmaking

• Improving connectivity and efficiency through improved transportation

networks and increased opportunities for new domestic business


• Increasing opportunities for higher value-added goods and services

• Greening of manufacturing processes to protect the environment.

Some of the actions involved are:

Minister Robinson-Regis

(right) helping volunteers

to replant mangroves at

Brickfield mudflats in

central Trinidad

• Development of a draft National Manpower Plan to bridge the gaps

between the labour market and the education system, and to grow the

sectors identified for diversification of the economy


DECEMBER 2019 11

2030: the next decade




1-15 Years;





1-10 Years;





1-5 Years;


1. A globally



Building Globally

Competitive Businesses


1. A premiere

investment location

1. Macroeconomic

stability will be


2. Businesses

are producers of

a wider range

of products and

services for the

global market

2. A business

environment that

is conducive to


and innovation

3. A more



for investment

and trade

4. Firms are

producers of

high valueadded


and services

that can

compete in

export markets

Source: Vision 2030: The National Development Strategy of Trinidad and Tobago 2016-2030,


• The National Crime Prevention

Programme, which is already

operationalised; its impact will be felt

in 2020

• Establishment of the National

Statistical Institute of Trinidad and

Tobago to provide quality data in a

timely manner to support evidencebased


• Initiatives to enhance road

infrastructure, reduce traffic

congestion, and support productivity

• Construction of the Phoenix Park

Industrial Estate in Couva and the

Moruga Agro-Processing and Light

Industrial Park, which will help to

move the economy further up the

production value chain while earning

foreign exchange

• By 2020, government expects

polystyrene products, such as

styrofoam containers, will be illegal in

Trinidad and Tobago. This is in keeping

with international best practice and

has already been legislated by other

countries in the Caribbean.

Trinidad & Tobago has had a chequered past with respect to the

implementation of policies, strategies and projects. What would you

say to the sceptic who believes that Vision 2030 looks good on paper

but will lack concrete, trickle-down effects?

The government has undertaken a number of initiatives to ensure that the benefits

of the plan do trickle down to citizens and the private sector. The business

community has already experienced quite a few benefits related to the ease of doing

business, increased facilitation of export competitiveness and productivity, and

measures to curb the negative impact of commercial activity on the environment.

The private sector

must lead the

diversification thrust

with Government

playing a facilitative

and supportive role

— Vision 2030

Other initiatives include:

• Movement away from manual applications for company

registration, towards electronic applications. This has reduced

the length of time it takes to start a business from ten days

to three.

• The Construction Permit System, DevelopTT, will automate, modernise,

and streamline the construction permit process to reduce the transaction

time, the number of processes and the cost of obtaining construction

permits. DevelopTT is expected to roll out in the fourth quarter

of 2019.

12 DECEMBER 2019 chamber.org.tt

Courtesy the Ministry of Planning and Development

• A secured Transactions and Collateral Registry System

is under development. This will facilitate the use of

movable property (intellectual property, agricultural

products, accounts receivable, machinery and

equipment) as collateral, and will provide small

and medium-sized enterprises with improved

access to finance.

• An Electronic Funds Transfer Framework

for government agencies is being

developed. It will be able to make and

receive electronic payments. Efforts

towards building capacity within the

Inland Revenue Division to improve

taxpayer services are under way. A unified

legislative framework that harmonises the

Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act with other

relevant legislation, including the Companies

Act, has also been created.

Minister Robinson-Regis

with delegates from

Connect America, Challenge:

You Learn and You Endeavour

• The EXIMBANK Forex Facility, in the amount

of US$100 million, was launched in May 2018 to

help manufacturers purchase the raw materials needed to

increase exports and improve forex earning capability. To date,

the EXIMBANK has assisted 38 manufacturers.

• Several policies were developed to help boost competitiveness, expand

market access, increase export capacity and improve the business and

trade-enabling environment.

• Government proposes to introduce an incremental foreign exchange

earnings tax credit for the manufacturing sector. This will particularly

affect agriculture and agro-processing, food and beverage, non-energy and

non-petrochemical products. Legislation will be introduced in parliament

during this fiscal year.

• The continued expansion and enhancement of the Single Electronic

Window (SEW).

• Improvements to port facilities are ongoing with the introduction of more

sophisticated container scanning equipment.

The business community has already

experienced quite a few benefits

related to improving the ease of

doing business, increased facilitation

of export competitiveness and

productivity, and implementation

of measures to curb the negative

impact of commercial activity on the


• Implementation of international agreements under the World Trade

Organisation to expedite the movement, release and clearance of goods

at the border and improve infrastructural works at the ports of Port of

Spain and Scarborough.

We are building a new society in which every citizen and business becomes

involved in shaping the future of our nation; a place where everyone will have

an individual responsibility to keep our streets clean, our communities crimefree,

our roadways safe, and our economy stable.


DECEMBER 2019 13

2030: the next decade

Lessons from Vision 2020

Trinidad & Tobago: selected

developmental indicators 2005

+ 2018

As the indicators in the table show,

Trinidad and Tobago has made little

substantive progress in the 15 years

since Vision 2020 was launched. Only

one indicator, GDP per capita, shows

improvement, with a 23% rise. However,

this measure only reflects an increase in

energy revenues rather than productivity

growth, and therefore is unlikely to be


More relevant indicators are the spike

in murders, the growing perception of

corruption, and the decline in democracy.

If we were on a developmental path,

these trends would be going the other

way. Similarly, infant mortality has been

shown to correlate with socio-economic

development, perhaps because of how

a society takes care of its babies often

indicates other progressive policies. But

the steepest decline is also the most

reliable indicator of our inability to

achieve Vision 2020: Trinidad and Tobago

has far less economic freedom now than

it did in 2005.

Table 1: Selected developmental indicators

2005 & 2018

Measure 2005 2018

GDP per capita US$12,413 US$15,300

Homicide rate 25 36¥

Infant mortality 15 Ω 15

Corruption 38 41*

Economic freedom 71.5 57.7*

Democracy 52 45 §

¥ per 100,000 persons Ω per 1,000 births

* highest score 100 § out of 112 countries

Source: various local and international entities

By 2020, according to the plan, Trinidad and Tobago

should have attained developed nation status. We

should have invested in sound infrastructure, created

an enabling environment for business and innovation,

and entrenched effective governance. In this personal

assessment, Kevin Baldeosingh considers the success of

Vision 2020

by Kevin Baldeosingh

Freelance writer

The Draft National Strategic Plan (DNSP) for Vision 2020 was published in

2005, and involved approximately 600 professionals, activists and experts

in various fields. The goal of the DNSP was to “build a developed nation together,

calling us to action and pointing the way ahead.” Fifteen years later, Vision 2020

has proved to be a near complete failure.

The original plan had the following goals:

• equal opportunities for all citizens

• quality healthcare for everyone, with peaceful

and environmentally healthy communities

• a modern education system

• respect for the rule of law, human rights, and democracy

• diversity and creativity valued and nurtured.

The Vision 2020 dilemma

In 2010, government published a progress report on Vision 2020 which claimed

“an implementation rate of approximately 70 per cent in four years”. However,

the report’s own statistics show that only 18% of objectives were actually

achieved, and 30% showed no significant progress. With respect to goals like

“effective government”, the achievement rate was a dismal 3%; for competitive

business, 17%; and for “developing innovative people”, 4%.

By publishing the new plan, Vision 2030, in 2017, the government implied

that Vision 2020, not yet completed, was not a success (see Table 1). This new

initiative identified negative cultural values as the core basis for the lack of

implementation of Vision 2020 and, concomitantly, posited that success would

be achieved by promulgating those norms and attitudes which research had

shown were necessary for economic and social progress.

“A main part of the answer resides in cultural factors or the values, attitudes

and behaviours that we, the people of Trinidad and Tobago, either possess or

lack,” says the 2030 Draft Plan. “They manifest negatively in our country in

many ways such as the persistence of corruption, rent seeking, low productivity

and poor work ethos.”

14 DECEMBER 2019 chamber.org.tt

2030: the next decade

If, therefore, the government were to concentrate on

improving Trinidad and Tobago’s economic freedom

measures, this would help unleash the potential of

the society as a whole

The Plan lists five key cultural shifts needed to make

Trinidad and Tobago a developed nation:

• More evidence-based decision making

• Citizens who are more independent and critical

thinkers, creative, innovative and entrepreneurial

• Positive work ethic

• Adherence to the rule of law and enforcement

against corrupt practices

• Greater environmental care and sensitivity.

Explaining failure

The role of culture in socio-economic progress became

important by the 1990s when it became clear that three

decades of aid from western nations to African and Latin

American countries had failed to bring about economic

development. Culture became the favoured variable to

explain this failure, drawing largely on research done

by anthropologists Geert Hofstede (who studied firms in

different countries) and Lawrence E. Harrison, who worked

for USAID for over 20 years in Latin America and later

created the Culture Matters project.

But in the early 21st century, an alternative explanation

based on economics became prevalent, which held that

using the free market rather than government was a more

effective way to attain development, since state-directed

initiatives provided no incentives for politicians or public

servants or even entrepreneurs to make productive decisions.

A key figure in this shift was former World Bank

economist William Easterly, who wrote several books on

aid and development in which he argued that aid and

government programmes failed to bring about economic

progress because “a society’s economic growth does not

always pay off at the individual level for government

officials, aid donors, and private businesses and households.

Incentives often lead them in other, unproductive ways.”

The evidence in favour of this perspective is powerful.

State-run corporations tend to be inefficient and wasteful,

as we well know here in Trinidad and Tobago, and the

apparent exceptions in East Asian nations such as South

Korea and China are outliers.

More importantly, the correlation between economic

freedom indicators and socio-economic development are

extremely robust. The Cato Institute, a free market thinktank,

notes that “the average income of the poorest 10

percent in the most economically free nations is almost

twice the average per capita income in the least free nations.

Life expectancy is 79.4 years in the top quartile compared

to 65.2 years in the bottom quartile, and political and

civil liberties are considerably higher in economically free

nations than in unfree nations.”

Culture or economics?

So which is the better analytical paradigm for Trinidad and

Tobago: culture or economics?

Both are applicable, but in different ways. It seems that

cultural factors better explain socio-economic success

between different cohorts within the society, whereas

economic principles account for our overall stasis as a


Thus, Trinidad and Tobago ranks poorly on Ease of Doing

Business (60 out of a high score of 100 and ranked 105 out

of 190 countries) and on economic freedom. And this lack

of economic freedom affects the less well-off most harshly.

One indicator of this problem is the Industrial Court,

which prevents any individual employee from bringing a

grievance to it (the Act mandates that only trade unions

can bring a case).

If, therefore, the government were to concentrate on

improving Trinidad and Tobago’s economic freedom

measures, this would help unleash the potential of the

society as a whole. Other benefits would naturally follow

from economic growth based on productivity rather than

resource rents. They would include more youth employment

(because employers would be less hampered by regulations

that exact costs for hiring unskilled workers), less crime

(because more youths would be employed in jobs where

they could acquire marketable skills rather than in URP

and CEPEP programmes), and reduced corruption (because

the state would be less involved in commercial activities).

Vision 2020 remains a worthwhile goal. But that first

attempt showed that the methodology for achieving

developed-country status was fundamentally wrongheaded.

It is now time to use the market-oriented approach,

which is already bearing fruit in most Latin American and

several African nations.

Fabrik Bilder/shutterstock.com


DECEMBER 2019 15

Ionov Artem /shutterstock.com

Business profile

16 DECEMBER 2019 chamber.org.tt

2030: the next decade

Preparing for the

world of 2030

In the next decade the world’s

population will increase by another

billion, temperatures will rise by at

least 1.5 degrees, and global energy

consumption will increase by 1.7%

per year. What does this mean for

Trinidad and Tobago? Are we ready

for the world of 2030?

by Natalie Dookie

Freelance writer

In 2030 the world will be more connected yet

more fragmented. There will be shifts in energy use,

demographics, politics, technology and the environment.

How Trinidad and Tobago fares in the next decade will

depend on the decisions taken today. CONTACT considers

the impact of these mega-trends on Trinidad and Tobago.

Global mega-trends

Analysts state that the world will be more populated and

have more elderly people than at any other time in our

history. By 2030, China’s economy will be more than 2.5

times that of India and almost as large as those of the United

States (US) and the European Union (EU) combined.

As the world becomes more populous and interdependent,

population pressures and threats will increase and become

more complex. Chief amongst these will be mass migration,

human and narcotics trafficking, terrorism, global

pandemics, cyber-crime, urbanisation, resource scarcities

and environmental degradation as a result of climate


ICT experts advise that technology will be ubiquitous

and ingrained in every sphere of human activity. It will

also be more disruptive. Globalisation and technological

advances will shift the engine of economic growth from

the advanced countries to the emerging economies of Asia,

and economic activities from the production of goods to

the creation of services.

Many countries will shift from heavy reliance on fossil

fuels to alternative energy sources, thus accelerating the

transition to a more secure climate future.

2030’s mega-trends

Mega-trends are the strategic forces that

shape our future. Akin to a slow-moving

glacier, they cannot easily be turned

around by humans. They are backed up by

verifiable data. Here are the likely megatrends

of 2030:

1. By 2030, the world will be at least

1.5 degrees warmer than during

pre-industrial times. This will

lead to the increased occurrence

of extreme heat, droughts and


2. The world’s population will grow

by another billion, taking us to 8.6

billion in 2030.

3. As a whole, the world will be older

than today: in 2030, 12% of the

world population will be over 65.

4. By 2030, two-thirds of the world

will live in cities. Where urban

growth occurs in an uncontrolled

fashion, it leads to urban sprawl,

low productivity, segregation,

congestion and crime.

5. Projections suggest that average

global economic growth will be

around 3% a year in the coming

decade. Most of this growth will

happen in developing economies,

whose growth will accelerate from

today’s 3.1% to 3.6%.

6. Energy consumption will rise

globally by 1.7% per year.

7. By 2030, the number of devices

connected to the internet will have

reached 125 billion, up from 27

billion in 2017.

8. The power of states will be

determined by their relational

influence. In the future, no single

state will be able to tackle major

global challenges alone. As a result,

a state’s importance will depend on

its capacity to influence the policy

decisions of others.

Source: European Strategy & Policy Analysis System (ESPAS),

Global Trends to 2030, Challenges and Choices for Europe,

April 2019, https://ec.europa.eu/assets/epsc/pages/espas/



DECEMBER 2019 17

2030: the next decade

Globalisation and technological advances will shift

the engine of economic growth from the advanced

countries to the emerging economies of Asia, and

economic activities from the production of goods

to the creation of services

The Caribbean context

In addition to these global trends, the Caribbean must consider current events

such as Britain’s exit from the EU, the political-economic crisis in Venezuela,

the impact of Chinese investment, and the agenda of the US in terms of

immigration, trade, tourism and investment diversion.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean

(ECLAC), in its Caribbean Outlook 2018, noted that Caribbean economies have

experienced persistent low growth since the global financial crisis of 2008-2009.

This is associated with fiscal challenges, especially the region’s debt burden, which

remains among the highest in the world relative to the size of its economies.

Experts say that regional chronic current account imbalances are the result of

underlying problems, including lack of competitiveness and limited diversification

of markets and products. The skill level in the workforce is low, and there is

a mismatch between the output of the region’s educational system and the

requirements of the labour market. Compounding this situation, the Caribbean

has one of the world’s highest levels of emigration of tertiary-educated and

skilled individuals.

Adolescent pregnancies and youth unemployment in the region are among

the highest in the world. This, along with growing poverty, income inequality,

climate change, rising crime, gender-based violence and non-communicable

diseases, must be factored into regional development plans.

Experts say that regional chronic

current account imbalances are

the result of underlying problems,

including lack of competitiveness

and limited diversification of

markets and products

Trinidad & Tobago: getting ready

To cope with these mega-trends, citizens must possess

21st-century expertise and technological know-how,

and become multilingual and multi-skilled.

Technological advances are expected to lower

production costs, and there will be more

competition from imports. Local authorities

recommend that producers incorporate new

advanced technologies in the production of

goods and services.

Trinidad and Tobago will require a relevant,

flexible education system aligned to a world

where technology plays a major role. At the

same time, as the world shifts to alternative

energy and sustainable production, businesses

should focus on adding value.

Improvements in the criminal and civil justice

system will enhance social stability and positively

impact economic development. Public sector reform is

essential, as well as strengthening the system of national

WAYHOME Studio/shutterstock.com

18 DECEMBER 2019 chamber.org.tt

jaroslava V/shutterstock.com

statistics. By 2030, public institutions will need to be more capable, professional

and proactive.

Investment in infrastructure, with emphasis on transportation and public utilities

built to internationally accepted standards, is another important component.

Competitive businesses are important to a developed-nation thrust. As we move

towards 2030, firms should have advanced strategic and operational systems,

access to a capable, knowledge-based workforce, and high quality resources,

fuelled by a sophisticated consumer base.

As we look ahead, Trinidad and Tobago must become more productive, and

more competitive. We must work smarter, be more innovative, and create new

high-value products. As such, it is integral that research and development, as

well as innovation, be institutionalised at all levels of education.

Many countries will shift from

heavy reliance on fossil fuels to

alternative energy sources, thus

accelerating the transition to a

more secure climate future

National challenges

National development plans must be set against a backdrop of specific national


1) The economy is highly dependent on oil and natural gas, with energy

exports accounting for 85% of total export earnings, 40% of government

revenue and over 35% of GDP.

2) Trinidad and Tobago has an ageing population; the median age is 32.6

years and 13% of the total population is 60 years and over.

3) Urban development is encroaching on agricultural and environmentally

zoned regions.

4) There are gender disparities in the education system, with female

enrolment and educational attainment exceeding that of males.

5) Trinidad and Tobago’s popularity as a migrant destination is placing

greater pressure on law enforcement, legislative and administrative



DECEMBER 2019 19

2030: the next decade

sfam photo/shutterstock.com

6) We are vulnerable in the area of food security – partly

because of predatory pricing and the dumping of

harmful or sub-standard products.

7) Productivity is demonstrably low in both the public

and private sectors.

8) The output of the education system needs to be

aligned to human resource needs and economic


9) Weaknesses in the public service have negatively

impacted immigration, customs, land management,

and planning approvals.

10) We have high rates of serious crime, particularly

homicides, coupled with inadequate responses by law

enforcement, the prison service and the justice system.

11) Climate change is a threat: the degradation of coastal and marine

ecosystems, and the negative impact of industrial effluents, have made

our ecosystems more vulnerable.

12) ICT adoption rates by government and private sector are low. There is

an absence of proper legal and regulatory frameworks for e-goods and


Finding solutions

A thriving private sector is at the core of every successful economy, especially

when firms produce high-value products and services that can compete in export

markets. Development specialists advise that Trinidad and Tobago should take

steps to improve the competitiveness of the local private sector and build a

sustainable stable economy by broadening its enterprise base across a range

of sectors at key stages of the value chain, where capabilities match global


This entails venturing into more knowledge-intensive and complex economic

activities with an emphasis on export-oriented sectors where we can build a

competitive advantage.

To be competitive, our goods and services must conform to international

standards. Lower quality imports must be displaced through local production.

We must also accelerate transitioning from a fossil fuel-based economy to a

low-carbon one.

Advancing our development agenda will require the continuous review,

modernisation and strengthening of the legislative framework, the court system,

law enforcement and municipal policing. Modernising Trinidad and Tobago’s

public management systems is another prerequisite for developing a competitive

private sector. Government should forge strategic links with trading partners

to eliminate barriers that impede the private sector, and support international

efforts to tackle environmental challenges.

The extent to which Trinidad and Tobago is successful in achieving its Vision

2030 goals will depend on whether it can integrate budgetary and planning

systems, identify and formulate appropriate projects and programmes, and

execute them efficiently and effectively.

The extent to which Trinidad and

Tobago is successful in achieving

its Vision 2030 goals will depend on

its ability to integrate budgetary

and planning systems, identify

and formulate appropriate projects

and programmes, and execute them

efficiently and effectively

20 DECEMBER 2019 chamber.org.tt

2030: the next decade



Generation Flex

According to a recent Global Workspace

Survey undertaken by the International

Workspace Group, two-fifths of working

people worldwide see commuting as the

worst part of their day (40%), and more

than half of the respondents believe it

could be obsolete by 2030.

Generation Flex is a concept which

leaves it up to employees to choose when

they work and where. Gone are the days

when workers sit behind a desk for 40

hours a week. If employees feel valued

and trusted, they are naturally more

motivated to put in the appropriate hours

to complete their tasks.

Working hours of Monday to Friday,

8am to 4 or 5pm, are still very prevalent

in Trinidad and Tobago. We may not be

quite ready for Generation Flex, but we

should begin preparing for it by allowing

employees to shape their typical work day.

Employees should be given the freedom to

decide what works best for them. Flexitime

and the option of working from home

have been shown to increase employees’

productivity. For example, working 60- to

90-minute periods and taking 15- to

20-minute breaks during the day may

improve results.

At Regus, we tap into several different

platforms and software that allow us to

run our centres effectively with a minimal

workforce. Our user-friendly systems make

employee tasks simpler, while lessening the

margin of error.

Working from home full-time has its

advantages, but it is not the ideal situation

for many. After one or two years, people

often need more human or business

interaction; they find there are too many

distractions at home, and may be unable

to participate in conference calls due to

unprofessional background noise.

Flexible work patterns can be tied

into the different workspace solutions

offered by Regus. All-inclusive private

office space, co-working, virtual offices

and lounge memberships promote a

modern, more effective way of doing


Many lounge membership clients

are qualified, experienced professionals

and entrepreneurs who also have a

home office. Having unlimited access

to our professional lounges gives them

an alternative affordable professional

working environment.

It’s time for Trinidad and Tobago to

rethink its attitude to work, and for

employers to embrace Generation Flex.

At Regus, we are doing ou part to get

the balance right.

Stephanie Quesnel

General Manager, Trinidad & Tobago,

Regus Caribbean


DECEMBER 2019 21

Voice of business



in Trinidad

and Tobago

Why did your firm

recently invest in

Trinidad and Tobago?

What were the risks

and challenges


The advantages of investing

in Trinidad and Tobago are a

stable economic and political

environment, a well-educated and

highly skilled workforce, proximity

to the Americas, access to regional

and global trade markets, and low

energy costs.

On the other hand, the main

obstacle to local and foreign direct

investment is the highly bureaucratic

nature of our public sector. In fact,

the World Bank’s 2019 Ease of Doing

Business index ranked Trinidad and

Tobago at 105 out of 190 countries.

Approval processes are disjointed,

scattered across many ministries and

state entities, making market entry

difficult, especially for newcomers.

There is an urgent need to improve the

quality and efficiency of government

services, making the customer a


We also rank low, 79 out of 141,

on the Global Competitiveness Index,

which investors consider to assess the

long-term growth and sustainability

of a country.

Of additional concern to the

business community is the rising

cost of crime, the need for improved

defences against natural disasters, and

the perception of corruption. In the

latest Corruption Perception Index,

we ranked 78 out of 180, with the

report citing issues such as bribery,

government’s inability to treat with

corruption and the unwillingness to

report on corruption by citizens.

The Chamber considers the current

economic downturn as cyclical in

nature. We expect 2020 to be flat, but

by 2021 we anticipate that the impact

of government policies will be felt,

and we will see a return to growth.

This is a good time for businesses to

look for new opportunities.

Courtesy Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Reyaz Ahamad

President, Trinidad and Tobago

Chamber of Industry and Commerce;

Executive Director, Southern Sales

and Service Company Limited

Changes to our oil and gas landscape

present opportunities for government

to diversify the economy. We would

also like to see positive movement in

the tourism sector, alongside a holistic

approach to development in Tobago. We

need to find new ways to inject capital

Southern Sales has played a

major role in the local automotive

business for over 55 years.

Currently we are improving our

customer experience by investing

about TT$50 million in our aftersales


and incentivise the growth of small and

medium-sized businesses.

Southern Sales has played a major

role in the local automotive business

for over 55 years. Currently we are

improving our customer experience

by investing about TT$50 million in

our after-sales department. Work on

one service centre will be completed

in 2019, and the other in 2020. We

believe in the future prosperity

of Trinidad and Tobago, and will

continue to invest in our operations

in this market.

22 DECEMBER 2019 chamber.org.tt

Courtesy HADCO Group

John Hadad

Co-Chief Executive Officer,


May 2019 marked a year since

HADCO Group launched Creamery

Novelties Limited, its ice cream

manufacturing company. Being 100%

locally-owned, the Group decided to

examine the feasibility of expanding

within the local market. An assessment

showed that customers’ changing

demands, the economic slow-down

and the shortage of foreign exchange


meant that the Group needed to adjust

its product offerings to include a local

value brand that suited every pocket.

Opportunities presented themselves

in the ice cream sector. Although

there were minor challenges in

the initial set-up, with delays in

approvals, construction, machinery

and equipment, the idea was

welcomed and facilitated by state

agencies and private entities. These

included InvesTT, the Environmental

Management Authority, the Town

and Country Planning Division, the

Customs and Excise Division, and

local banks for financing.

Over the course of the year,

Creamery Novelties thrived, notably

contributing to the foreign exchange

of the Group. The company employs

over 109 persons and offers consumers

ice cream and novelties in diverse

flavours at an affordable price.

Recently, we invested US$1.5 million

Voice of business

to procure equipment to expand the

range of novelties. The company

exports to Antigua and Barbuda,

Dominica, Guyana and Montserrat,

and products will be available in other

Caribbean countries before the end of

the year.

Creamery Novelties is not the first

strategic investment made by HADCO

Group on the local market. Imanex,

the manufacturers of Happy Time

ice cream cones; Ecoimpact, which

recycles waste vegetable oil for export;

and Land Ice and Fish, which exports

tuna to the US, are other examples.

HADCO Group continues to see

opportunities for investment in

the local market, especially in the

manufacturing sector, and believes that

future growth is in the diversification

of its products and services.

Trinidad and Tobago is one of the

stronger economies regionally,

with a superior per capita income.

The highly skilled labour base is a

key investment incentive, together

with Caricom’s free movement of

professional resources.

The country has a very open

environment for doing business. The

presence of a highly skilled labour

force, a reliable electricity supply,

easy access to essential utilities,

telecommunications and a strong legal

framework are significant enablers.

This is supported by a steady trade

route throughout Central, South and

North America and the Far East.

Our investment in south Trinidad

contributed significantly to the

growth of our business footprint. In

2018, we established a premier facility

for Courts, Courts Optical and the

Ashley Furniture HomeStore at South

Park – a total investment of over

TT$25M, with 31,500 square feet of

retail space. During the construction

phase employment was generated for

approximately 100 people; sustained

employment is currently at 50.

Earlier this year we also expanded

our technological reach for sales

financing through the launch of our

digital technology app EMMA, which

enables easy access to credit facilities

for our customers.

The main risk to the business is the

impact of crime on our operations.

We continue to place a very high

value on the safety and security of

our people, and we have strengthened

our infrastructure accordingly.

Additionally, we have embarked

on building strategic relationships

that support the national process of

dialogue to find sustainable solutions

to crime. Through this advocacy

approach, we have established

partnerships with NGOs, private sector

entities and the Trinidad and Tobago

Police Service to conceptualise

progressive options aimed at the

reduction and prevention of aspects

of crime impacting the nation.

Courtesy Unicomer Ltd.

Clive Fletcher

Managing Director, Unicomer

(Trinidad) Limited

Our investment in south Trinidad

contributed significantly to the

growth of our business footprint.

In 2018, we established a premier

facility for Courts, Courts

Optical and the Ashley Furniture

HomeStore at South Park – a

total investment of over TT$25M,

with 31,500 square feet of retail



DECEMBER 2019 23

Crime & justice

The rising cost of crime

Trinidad and Tobago has spent more money on crime than any other country in the

Caribbean and Latin America, according to an IDB study. The proportion of firms

paying for security ranges from 44% in Saint Lucia to 85% in Trinidad and Tobago.

How is the rising cost of crime affecting the private sector?

by Pauline Anne Hamilton

Security & risk consultant

Crime is ubiquitous; it has adverse effects on all spheres of society. Even

with constrained economic resources, government must therefore continue to

invest heavily in control measures, which are traded off against spending on other

critical public services such as healthcare, education, utilities, infrastructure,

social services and public sanitation. Criminality distresses citizens as well as

the private sector, which reports that there is scarcely any business which has

not been impacted by crime.

Criminal actions are commonly divided into five main categories: property,

inchoate (such as solicitation and conspiracy), statutory, personal, and financial.

Every crime produces undesirable consequences for the victim, whether

psychological, physical, financial, or a mix of these; and they can be short- or


Courtesy Trinidad Express

Beyond the costs of being victimised,

70% of regional firms reported

spending money on security, including

equipment, insurance, personnel,

and professional security services.

On average these expenses accounted

for 2.4% of annual sales

Mapping the cost of crime

The financial impact of crime is felt strongly by the business community,

since it increases the cost of doing business.

There are two aspects of the economic impact of crime. At the

primary level there are costs expended in the anticipation of crime,

especially measures to circumvent it: locks, monitored alarm

systems, CCTV surveillance, security officers, etc. There are

also costs incurred as a consequence of crime, such as loss of

property, medical expenses, and victim support. There is a cost to

responding to crime too, involving the police, fire and ambulance

services, prosecution, court proceedings, and legal fees.

The secondary financial impact of crime takes into acccount the

national economy, where it can discourage domestic and foreign

direct investment, tourism, and economic growth. It can also reduce

the quality of life and property values. The fear of crime often deters

businesses from wanting to expand or continuing to operate in certain

geographic areas. Even businesses operating in relatively crime-free zones

may experience a decline in patronage as citizens are reluctant to venture out,

especially after dark.

The costs incurred by businesses when they put in place measures to mitigate

against crime can send the cost of goods and services to the customer spiralling

upwards, resulting in reduced sales. Or, if these costs are borne by the operator,

they reduce profitability and can eventually lead to smaller companies going

out of business.

24 DECEMBER 2019 chamber.org.tt



































Figure 1:

Business Crime-related profile

costs (US

dollars per

capita in Latin

America and

the Caribbean,


0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200

Source: The Costs of

Crime & Violence, New

Evidence and Insights in

Latin America and the

Caribbean, Inter-American

Development Bank, 2017.

Most of the data referenced

in the study relates to the

period 2010 to 2014.

Trends in the


The 2017 IDB report, The Costs of Crime

& Violence, New Evidence and Insights

in Latin America and the Caribbean,

states that nearly one in four Caribbean

businesses (23%) reported losses due to

theft, robbery, vandalism or arson. While

the percentage of businesses that suffer

losses is relatively high in the region, the

average amount lost (2.3% of annual

sales) is lower than the Latin American and

Caribbean regional average (3.6%) and the

international average (4.8%).

Beyond the costs of being victimised,

70% of regional firms reported spending

money on security, including equipment,

insurance, personnel, and professional

security services. This is substantially higher

than the world average in the World Bank

Enterprise Survey (55.6%). On average

these expenses accounted for 2.4% of

annual sales.

The portion of firms paying for security

in the Caribbean ranged from 44% in Saint

Lucia to 85% in Trinidad and Tobago, the

highest in the region. Most firms reported

spending on alarm systems, security

cameras, and gates. At the time of the

study the local detection rate was also

the lowest in the region, 13%, which was

extremely low and declining.

Public expenditure on crime per capita

was highest in Trinidad and Tobago at

US$460.60 per capita per annum, which

was more than double the regional average

of US$194.50.

Trinidad and Tobago also had the highest

crime-related costs in the entire Caribbean

and Latin American region at US$1,189 per

capita per annum, and the third highest as a

percentage of GDP at 3.52%.

Trinidad & Tobago’s crime epidemic

An increase in crime and violence in Trinidad and

Tobago, particularly since 2000, has intensified

perceptions of insecurity among citizens and

businesses. Table 1 shows fluctuations among key

offences, over a five-year period.

Between 2014 and 2018, robberies in Trinidad

and Tobago increased by 21%, and fraud offences

by 142%. There was a fall in burglaries and breakins,

general larceny and larceny of motor vehicles

(see Figure 2). There are no data available to better

understand the impact on the workforce/businesses

of crimes committed against employees.

Crime in Trinidad and Tobago takes a heavy toll

on the private sector in terms of costs. Often overlooked is the collateral damage

incurred by the victim, whether individual or business. In the case of a business

the internal business loss might be $20,000 from a safe, but the external or

true loss would include the cost of repairing or replacing the safe, replacing the

broken door or window through which entry was gained, replacing any destroyed

Table 1: Selected offence indicators which may impact the private sector, 2018-14

Offence 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014

Burglaries &


2,017 2,176 2,187 2,111 2,592

Fraud offences 540 568 1,016 592 223

General larcency

2,054 2,153 1,952 1,870 2,364

Kidnapping for

ransom 20 6 3 4 3

Larcency of

motor vehicles 573 785 647 785 742

Robberies 3,239 2,913 2,595 2,469 2,672

Source: Trinidad & Tobago Police Service, http://ttps.gov.tt/

From 2014 to 2018, robberies in Trinidad

and Tobago increased by 21%, and fraud

offences by 142%. Conversely, there was

a fall in burglaries and break-ins, general

larceny and larceny of motor vehicles


DECEMBER 2019 25

Crime & justice

electronic surveillance systems, and

the cost of further hardening the

target. On top of all that comes the

likelihood of an increase in insurance


In Trinidad and Tobago, the local

corporate community invests heavily

to protect businesses, especially during

the hours of darkness: is it possible

that this could motivate criminals to

become more brazen and operate by

day, as the effort to reach the target

is too great at night? This seems to be

the trend, more and more businessrelated

crimes are taking place in

daylight during business hours, such

as the attempted robbery at Trincity

Mall which took place at 1pm on a

busy Saturday in October this year.

The fear created by daylight

crime can result in more consumers

shopping on international websites,

thereby decreasing the market share

of local businesses. Other trends in

Trinidad and Tobago are carjacking

and credit and debit card skimming:

both have been around for a while

but appear to be on the rise, and are

also contributing factors to growth in

online shopping which can be done

relatively safely at home. Last year’s

report from the Office of the Financial

Ombudsman showed an increase in

account and transaction complaints

from the banking public, referring

mainly to unauthorised transactions

such as card-skimming.

Private sector initiatives

Apart from the effects of crime on the

private sector, what causes crime? And

what can be done to deter potential


The most readily accepted theories

cite parental neglect, alcohol and drug

abuse, lack of education, poverty, the

influence of gangs, unemployment,

and a dwindling middle class. All

these factors are clearly evident

in our society and are likely to be

contributing factors to crime.

But what should be done about

them, and by whom? Is the










& break-ins

Fraud offences

General larceny

Figure 2: Growth in selected offence indicators which may impact the private sector, 2018-14

government doing enough to curb

crime? The local justice system is

plagued by processing delays, long

backlogs, and low conviction rates.

Just as we harden targets to protect

them and deter criminals, why are

we not making crime itself more

unattractive to criminals by improving

their chances of arrest and conviction

and increasing the impact of


Community outreach

is one way of

working with atrisk

youths. The

Trinidad and

Tobago Police

Service, in


with corporate

leaders, has

established about

113 youth clubs

across the country. These

provide training, education

and recreation for young people,

many of whom are offered part-time

employment during school vacations

by businesses. A number of them have

even gone on to become permanent


Effective rehabilitation can change

the mind-set of prison inmates by

improving self-esteem and the ability

to fit into society after serving their

sentences. Without the skills and

knowledge to lead productive lives,

they often leave these institutions

Kidnapping for


Larceny of motor


2018 2017 2016 2015 2014

Source: Trinidad & Tobago Police Service, http://ttps.gov.tt/

Courtesy Trinidad Express


While 85% of Trinidad and

Tobago businesses spent money

on security, the highest in the

region, at the time of the study

the local detection rate was the

lowest in the region

even more committed to a life

of crime.

Over the years, the

Trinidad and Tobago

Chamber of Industry

and Commerce,

with the aid of the

private sector,

has established

over 500


crime watch

groups across

the country;

this project is still

ongoing. Conspicuous

signs are erected in the

community, with residents monitoring

the neighbourhood and reporting back

any suspicious activity.

The general consensus of the

business community and the broader

populace is that there needs to be a

more concerted effort by government

to address crime which, if allowed

to continue unchecked, will damage

Trinidad and Tobago’s long-term

economic sustainability, FDI levels

and access to a skilled workforce.

26 DECEMBER 2019 chamber.org.tt

Business profile

Jacqueline Francois

extends her

father’s legacy

Courtesy Oscar Francois Ltd.

Last year Oscar Francois celebrated

60 years in business. As executive

chairman, Jacqueline Francois is paving

the way for the next generation.

While balancing business, family and

volunteer commitments has been

challenging, she has successfully left

her mark on all these areas

by Jade Cumberbatch

Freelance writer


SEPT 2019 27

Business profile

Jacqueline Francois receiving

a long service award from

Oscar Francois Ltd

Courtesy Oscar Francois Ltd.

Jacqueline is now the executive

chairman of Oscar Francois and

managing director of the manufacturing

company Intersol Limited, which her

father co-founded

About Oscar Francois Ltd

• Founded in 1958 by Oscar H.


• Started as a prescription

medication distribution company

supplying doctors, hospitals, and


• The veterinary division for animal

pharmaceuticals was formalised

in 1965

• In 1967, Oscar Francois co-founded

the manufacturing and export

company Intersol Ltd.

• Also in 1967, the company

expanded into distribution of

personal care products, with

manufacturing and distribution of

the Fabergé line of fragrances

• Today, Intersol manufactures a

range of cosmetics and personal

care products, including the Diquez

and Day ‘n Nite brand. It exports

to several countries including

Barbados, Belize, Bermuda,

Dominica, Guyana, Jamaica, St

Lucia, St Kitts & Nevis, St Vincent

& the Grenadines, and Suriname

• Oscar Francois has locations in Port

of Spain, Arima, Chaguanas, and La


• It added surgical instruments,

professional haircare products,

fertilisers, insecticides, and

veterinary medicine and health

drugs to its product line

• Oscar Francois employs 180

persons, while Intersol employs 25

Jacqueline Francois does not dwell on challenges. She sees

what has to be done and does it.

As a woman in business, Jacqueline says she always

overcompensates by being extra prepared for everything.

She gets her hands dirty and leads by example so no one

can question her knowledge, skill or authority.

Oscar Francois: a pioneer

“Overcompensating was my dad’s advice. He felt that the

best preparation he could do with his four daughters was to

give us a tertiary education outside of Trinidad and Tobago.

He wanted us to not just have a sound education but exposure

to other cultures.”

Jacqueline’s father, Oscar H. Francois, first started off by helping

to establish a pharmaceutical distribution department within a major

company, working there for 17 years before moving on to start up his own

business. She recounts how, when he met her mother, he wanted to get married.

He also wanted financial stability, so he took what he knew best and started

Oscar Francois Limited out of a personal desire for independence and independent


Jacqueline Francois is now the executive chairman of Oscar Francois and

managing director of the manufacturing company Intersol Limited, which her

father co-founded. She started working part-time with both companies at the age

of 17, and was employed at Oscar Francois after graduating from the University

of Western Ontario with a degree in computer science.

“After graduating I joined the family business so I could learn it from scratch,

because my father had a heart attack in my first year of university. He recovered

well, but it brought some reality that I’m the eldest and I more than likely had

to help my mum.

“There was no point in time that I did not want to be part of the business.

Making them proud and making my contribution to the family was definitely

central to my motivation. Having said that, my sister Jasmine and I have always

said we have been so fortunate that we love what we do.”

Building a business

In 1958 Oscar Francois started with the distribution of prescription drugs.

Over the years, the business expanded to include over-the-counter drugs and

veterinary drugs. Eventually it expanded further into distribution of personal

care products with the manufacture of the Fabergé line of fragrances at Intersol.

In the mid-90s, Jacqueline was personally responsible for the introduction and

growth of the agricultural side of the business, providing fertilisers and seeds as

well as organic solutions to farmers. She also launched a motor vehicle security

division in 1990, which was sold earlier this year.

Oscar Francois continued to expand the personal care line, moving beyond

shampoos, conditioners and styling products to introduce products and training

for professional hairdressers. The medical department also introduced surgical

instruments for public and private operating theatres. In addition, in 1998, when

Unilever purchased the Fabergé line, Intersol began manufacturing Alberto VO5,

TCB, and Motions hair products.

As she moved through the various departments of both companies, Jacqueline

had to learn fast, make quick decisions and adjust to new circumstances. She

learned about markets, export sales, technical information about vehicle security

and other subjects on-the-go through workshops, personal reading, private tutors,

28 DECEMBER 2019 chamber.org.tt

Business profile

and even returning to school to earn an MBA in Business

at the UWI-Arthur Lok Jack Global School of Business


“This degree exposed me to human resource management

and organisational design and development, in which I

developed a keen interest. I immediately saw the benefits

of adopting some of these practices.”

As a result, upon assuming the role of CEO in 2000,

Jacqueline made the development of her team a primary

focus as she grew and re-shaped the business. “We invested

heavily in managerial and staff development by training

our leadership in change management techniques, and

sponsoring cross-functional teams who planned and

executed process improvement projects. We have been very

pleased with the results.

“I have grown as a businessperson, learning from

numerous mentors over the span of my career. Therefore I

also love to share my knowledge and experience, and have

gained a great deal of joy in leading the charge of investing

in the development of our team. I have received immense

satisfaction from seeing the growth of each team member.”

Achieving balance

Jacqueline’s fast-paced life of business and learning has

led to a lot of personal sacrifice, not just for the good

of the family’s businesses, but also to give back to the

country. She volunteered to represent the Trinidad and

Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce on several

Cabinet-appointed committees, including the HIV/AIDS

Coordinating Committee and the Drug Advisory Committee.

Jacqueline was also a mentor with the UWI-ALJGSB

BizBooster Incubator programme where she coached female

micro entrepreneurs. She also headed the Membership

Committee of the Powerful Ladies of Trinidad and Tobago

(PLOTT) for five years.

She continues to actively contribute to the Holy Name

Past Pupils Association through various committees,

and recently helped organise a career day for Form Four

students. For the past six years, she has been a volunteer

catechist at St Finbar’s Roman Catholic Church where she

teaches confirmation. And for the past year she has been the

coordinator of several programmes at the church – baptism,

first communion, confirmation, and the Rite of Christian

Initiation of Adults.

“God is at the centre of my life. God has graced me with

an extremely caring mother who has very high standards,

not just for me but for each of her children, grandchildren

and the people she comes into contact with. And a father

who was very open with his tutelage, particularly his


Jacqueline is very close to her siblings, thankful for her

wonderful brothers-in-law, and thoroughly enjoys her three

nieces and four nephews, who she admits that she spoils.

Her love of family also means that, while she may get

Who is Jacqueline Francois?

She is executive chairman of Oscar Francois Ltd and managing

director of Intersol Ltd. At the age of 17 she started working

part-time with both companies while still attending school.

In 1981 she graduated from the University of Western

Ontario with a degree in computer science and was

permanently employed at Oscar Francois. From then to

1983 she worked in the accounts, customs, and information

technology departments of both companies. In 1983 she

became the export sales representative for Intersol. In 1985

she took on the role of sales and marketing manager for the

personal sales division at Oscar Francois.

That year she also joined the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber

of Industry and Commerce’s (TTCIC) pharmaceutical committee.

She became vice-chairman of the committee in 2009 and

eventually became chairman before the committee was


In 1990 she became the pharmaceutical director at Oscar

Francois. She then completed her Executive MBA at the UWI-

ALJGSB, and became the deputy managing director at Intersol

in 1994.

In 2000 she became CEO of Oscar Francois, and held the position

for 17 years. That year she also became and remains managing

director of Intersol.

In 2013 she was elected a director of the TTCIC. Since 2017 she

has been the executive chairman of Oscar Francois.

tired and stressed at times, she has never regretted working

in the family business or wanted to go elsewhere.

The future

On the business side, things have been challenging as

a result of the local economic climate. Jacqueline says

demand is down in some areas, though growing in others.

There has been some growth in the export market however,

as Intersol recently launched Diquez Baby Lotion, which has

been well accepted locally and internationally.

In the area of chronic disease medicines, Jacqueline says,

business is becoming more costly because of delays created

by inefficiencies in the system, waiting for approvals, and

other time-related factors.

“Every transaction costs more money. Because of that,

we are constantly looking at becoming more and more

efficient so we could keep costs down and pass savings on

to the consumer.”

Despite these challenges, Jacqueline is looking forward

to the future. Oscar Francois already manages sales and

marketing efforts for a few international companies, and she

would like to see the business move beyond manufacturing

and distribution into added services.

“My role as executive chairman for the last two years has

really been about building that foundation for growth while

the rest of the executive team takes care of the day-to-day

operations. I am certainly looking forward to seeing the

fruits of my labour.”


DECEMBER 2019 29

30 DECEMBER 2019 chamber.org.tt

Growth and learning corner

The Chamber's growth and learnING corner

What have you read, watched or listened to lately that has

contributed to your growth and development as a businessperson?

Lara Quentrall-Thomas

Chairman, Regency Recruitment and Resources Limited

Brené Brown, researcher and author, focuses on

shame, empathy and vulnerability and the effect

they have on the way we build relationships. I

particularly identified with her presentation at 99U,

an education platform, on “Why your critics aren’t

the ones who count”.

She discusses the idea that taking risks and moving

forward as a professional requires courage, and that

courage has consequences. If you are brave enough

to put yourself in the arena and take risks, you may

encounter failure or criticism.

Sometimes the harshest critic is yourself. You have

to learn not to compare yourself to others and to value

the work that you do. The video is also about which

critics you listen to, and how to weed out those who

may not have your best interest at heart. She says if

someone is sitting on the sidelines and has not done

the work, put in the effort or taken the risk, if they are

not in the arena or have not walked that journey, then

I should not be interested in their feedback.

When you put yourself out there you are vulnerable,

and with vulnerability comes fear, anxiety, and also a

pathway to creativity, love and joy.

It takes courage to show up, to be seen, to be heard.

Courage has consequences both good and bad, all of

which are learning experiences you grow from.

View the video here:


Jillian Martin

Chief Executive Officer, Davyn Limited

Recently, I came across an article by Amy Morin, a psychotherapist, on developing mental strength:

“Mentally strong people: the 13 things they avoid”. This list of things which strong individuals should not

do really spoke to me as an entrepreneur:

1. Waste time feeling sorry for themselves

2. Give away their power

3. Shy away from change

4. Waste energy on things they can’t control

5. Worry about pleasing others

6. Fear taking calculated risks

7. Dwell on the past

8. Make the same mistakes over and over

9. Resent other people’s success

10. Give up after failure

11. Fear alone time

12. Feel the world owes them anything

13. Expect immediate results.

The point which particularly resonated with me was “not to give away my power”. This is critical because, as

business leaders, how we respond to situations in the workplace impacts everyone around us. We have to be

able to manage our actions and emotions in order to effect the right outcomes.

Rather than shy away from challenging workplace interactions, we should stay mentally strong, step

forward, and avoid giving others the power to make us feel inferior or bad. You can change the dynamic of

any situation by controlling your behaviour: your strength is your ability to manage the way you respond.

Read the article here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/cherylsnappconner/2013/11/18/mentally-strong-peoplethe-13-things-they-avoid/#6337b52a6d75


DECEMBER 2019 31

Growth and learning corner

The Chamber's growth and learning corner

What have you read, watched or listened to lately that has

contributed to your growth and development as a businessperson?

Roanna Maraj

Managing Director, ShupHub.com

Dame Anna Wintour is a British-American journalist and editor who has been editor-inchief

of Vogue since 1988 and artistic director for Condé Nast, Vogue's publisher, since 2013. She is

one of my mentors – a businesswoman who has dominated the industry she works in.

In a podcast leading her first Master Class for leadership and creativity, she said: “You are driven by your

heart, by your talent, and you are driven by your instinct … and if you start to look at what people are doing

to the left of you or to the right of you, you are going to lose that clarity of thought! Own your decisions, and

own who you are, but without apology ...”

This quote resonates with me as I am learning that I need to work “twice as hard” as a female entrepreneur,

and to be focused, determined, creative in my thinking. There are lots of people out there who will say “no”;

I have to figure out how to get around that, believe in my gut feeling/instincts, and not be afraid to firmly

demand what I want – and make it happen!

Listen to the podcast here:


32 DECEMBER 2019 chamber.org.tt


DECEMBER 2019 33

How businesses operate

The value of corporate


Corporate governance is improving globally, but not by enough.

Investors, shareholders and citizens are demanding greater

accountability and transparency. Spurred by legislative and financial

obligations, this should produce positive changes in the next decade

by Shelly Ann Mohammed

Head, ACCA Caribbean

Corporate governance continues to advance in global

importance and relevance. As the former Group Chief

Legal Officer of CL Financial, working with the government

on the restructuring of the company, I saw firsthand how

the collapse affected the Caribbean. The importance of good

corporate governance was never more apparent.

In response to a number of high-profile corporate failures

in the United States, rules affecting corporate governance

were overhauled. The introduction of the Sarbanes-Oxley

Act in 2002 established sweeping auditing and financial

regulations for public companies. Aspects of this overhaul

have found their way into the legislation of many other


Erosion of trust

Debates on corporate governance remain heavily focused

on public companies and regulated organisations, which

represent a small fraction of economic activity in most

countries. This is particularly true in Trinidad and Tobago,

where private and family-owned businesses dominate.

Corporate governance is the framework of rules and

practices that direct how businesses operate, and ensure

there is the highest possible accountability, transparency,

integrity and sustainable success.

ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants)

has been conducting research on corporate governance

since 2012, under a global initiative called “Culture and

channelling corporate behaviour”. In the 2008 global

financial crash, many companies who were compliant with

rules and regulations were still caught in the crisis. This

demonstrated very clearly that regulation and corporate

governance mechanisms failed to prevent dysfunctional

behaviour from spreading and seemingly thriving businesses

from collapsing.

Business scandals, public inquiries and corporate

wrongdoing continue to make headlines in Trinidad and

Tobago, and underscore the need to strengthen the interface

between corporate governance and ethics. Trust has been

eroded across a range of sectors, from politics to the media

to business, and society now demands more accountability.

Impact of organisational culture

ACCA’s research shows that culture is often driven from

the top: our political as well as corporate leaders have

responsibility for ensuring that values are lived and

breathed throughout society and in every organisation.

A number of institutions such as the Organisation for

Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and

locally the Corporate Governance Institute, are promoting

greater transparency, enhanced board effectiveness,

greater protection of shareholder rights and improved

stakeholder accountability.

It is imperative that state-owned agencies, private

family-operated businesses and publicly traded companies

understand that corporate governance has positive effects

on trust, confidence, credibility and reputation, which can

lead to long-term value creation and investor confidence.

External corporate governance consists of mandatory and

voluntary codes, reports and frameworks such as company

law, stock market listing rules and accounting and auditing

standards. According to the World Economic Forum, Trinidad

and Tobago still has a lot of work to do in this area (see Table

1). Internal corporate governance is about how such external

governance is complied with and embedded within the culture

34 DECEMBER 2019 chamber.org.tt

How businesses operate

and values of the organisation, and how sound governance is

implemented and works in practice.

The corporate governance framework can play its part

in providing a structure for governing the behaviour of

companies and their officers. However, external rules,

regulations, and codes of practice are not effective unless

a climate of compliance is established within organisations.

Embedded within companies, there also needs to be a culture

recognising the responsibilities and duties of management

with regard to the legitimate rights of their stakeholders

and shareholders.

Effective corporate governance is about promoting a

climate of transparency, scepticism and objectivity, by

creating systems, procedures, and internal structures. The

aim is compliance with external requirements, but also preempting

and dissuading anti-stakeholder behaviour from

deep within the organisation.

Rebuilding trust

Trust matters, and in Trinidad and Tobago it is at an alltime

low. The Centre for Public Impact (CPI), a foundation

of the Boston Consulting Group, works to rethink how

governments around the world can increase the impact of

their corporate governance policies and programmes. In

CPI’s view, legitimacy is a central pillar in achieving policy

outcomes and producing impact.

Table 1: Trinidad and Tobago’s 2019 Economic

Profile – selected corporate governance indicators

Index component

Strength of auditing and accounting




Conflict of interest regulation 27

Shareholder governance 84

Source: Global Competitiveness Report 2019,

Klaus Schwab, World Economic Forum, http://


Effective corporate governance is about

promoting a climate of transparency,

scepticism and objectivity, by creating

systems, procedures, and internal


Figure 1: Number of governance factors (26 in total) disclosed in public companies’ 2017 annual reports

Compliance To International Quality Factors, Associated With Effective Governance





21 21 21





























































Source: https://newsday.co.tt/2018/12/13/tt-companies-get-failing-grade-on-corporate-governance-standards/


DECEMBER 2019 35

2030: Corporate governance

Recommendations for stateowned


Recommendations for familyoperated


State boards should be held responsible and accountable for

ensuring the highest standards of corporate governance, and

should be expected to serve the interests of their stakeholders,

including the government as a shareholder, and the taxpayer.

The corporate governance of state-owned enterprises

(SOEs) should be a key priority for Trinidad and Tobago.

It can result in significant economic gains and increase


When SOEs underperform, there is a high economic,

financial and opportunity cost for the wider economy.

It diverts scarce public sector resources and taxpayers’

money away from much needed social sectors which

can directly benefit the poor. In Trinidad and Tobago,

governance challenges include highly politicised state

boards, and lack of autonomy by management in dayto-day

operational decision-making.

A lack of corporate governance in state-owned entities

can be a source of corruption. Government should

develop a structured transparent process for board

nominations, to ensure that directors are appointed who

have the required experience and range of competencies

to perform corporate governance roles, to guide strategy

and oversee management.

Family-owned businesses underpin Trinidad and Tobago’s

economy, and face unique performance and governance

challenges as they grow from generation to generation. A

McKinsey study showed that around the world only 30%

of family businesses survive into the third generation of


Among the factors that ensure success is strong

governance of the company. It is important to have

a board with independent external directors and a

separation between ownership and management. This

helps to complement the family’s knowledge with fresh

strategic perspectives from qualified outsiders. If these

challenges are managed, family-owned and -operated

businesses can endure and prosper for generations.

More than ever, therefore

it is the responsibility

of professionals such as

lawyers, corporate secretaries

and accountants to call out

unethical behaviour

CPI’s research shows that governments struggle to achieve desired outcomes

when the public does not trust state institutions. Publicly traded companies

and conglomerates have traditionally performed better at corporate governance.

For example, in 2019 Ethical Boardroom, a global governance magazine and

website, recognised the Massy Group from Trinidad and Tobago as having the

“best corporate governance” amongst Caribbean companies in the conglomerate


In December 2018 the UWI-Arthur Lok Jack Global School of Business (UWI-

ALJGSB), in collaboration with the Clarkson Centre for Business Ethics and Board

Effectiveness at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto (CCBE),

released the results of a study on the status of corporate disclosure practices

among publicly listed companies on the Trinidad and Tobago Stock Exchange

(TTSE). Figure 1 shows that companies scoring well were predominantly financial

institutions, insurance companies and conglomerates.

Conversely, two groups which make up a significant portion of business in

Trinidad and Tobago but often lack good corporate governance are state-owned

agencies and family-owned businesses.

More than ever, therefore it is the responsibility of professionals such as

lawyers, corporate secretaries and accountants to call out unethical behaviour.

The fight against corruption must start at the top with a clear commitment

from our leaders. The principles of corporate governance and ethics need to be

embedded in our daily lives, as any perceived lack of trust negatively impacts

business performance and lowers investor confidence.

36 DECEMBER 2019 chamber.org.tt

Courtesy Slimdown 360

Jody White,

founder of Slimdown

360, participated in

2018’s Pitch@Palace,

a UK entrepreneurship


Following similar US-based models,

Slimdown 360 delivers portioncontrolled,

nutrition coachrecommended

breakfast, lunch

and dinner (over 100 items) as well

as fitness coaching, lectures, and

access to an online community

that encourages members on their

path to a healthy lifestyle

Meet the food innovators

This time the spotlight falls on food manufacturers

Slimdown 360 and Del Mano Food. Both embrace local

ingredients, creating sustainability in their supply chains.

Here their founders reflect on how they changed careers

and found their passion in the world of agro-processing

by Jeanette G. Awai

Freelance writer

Courtesy Slimdown 360

A range of healthy,

meal delivery options by

Slimdown 360

Slimdown 360

Nine years ago, Jody White’s job as a pharmaceutical manager was being

made redundant. “I had two options: look for a job or open a business.” Thus

the concept of his company Slimdown 360 emerged. “I couldn’t find a job,

so I started Slimdown 360 as a low-calorie meal delivery weight loss


At the time, the dominant meal delivery service (MDS) was, and still

is, fast food, which has been linked to an increase in non-communicable

diseases (NCDs). According to the Ministry of Health’s National Strategic

Plan for the Prevention and Control of NCDs: Trinidad and Tobago: 2017-

2021, Trinidad and Tobago has one of the highest rates globally for NCDs.

Heart disease accounts for 25% of deaths annually, followed by diabetes

(14%), cancer (13%), and cerebrovascular disease (10%).

Slimdown 360’s meal delivery service helps provide a convenient healthy

alternative for customers. Following similar US-based models, Slimdown 360


DECEMBER 2019 37

Innovation in business

About Slimdown 360


Started in 2010 as a low-calorie meal delivery



Headquarters are located in Balmain, Couva


Today, it has 10 permanent employees and

additional contract workers as needed


Slimdown 360 manufactures sweet potato

and cassava pastas, fries and instant mashed

powders; gluten-free flours in cassava, sweet

potato, breadfruit, rice; as well as dried fruit


In 2018, Slimdown 360 won the inaugural

Duke of York’s Pitch@Palace People’s Choice

award out of 42 participants


Its products can be found on local grocery

shelves, and worldwide including mainland

USA plus Hawaii and Puerto Rico,

France, Germany, Italy and the UK; also on



You can sign up to get a free fitness

assessment, and purchase Slimdown’s tailored

MDS packages individually or as part of a

corporate programme, at www.slimdown360.

com. You can also purchase Slimdown 360

products at https://shopslimdown360.com/


Slimdown 360 posts recipes, weight loss

success stories and more on their Facebook

and Instagram pages and their YouTube

channel, @slimdown360


You can also start your fitness journey

by joining the “Trinbago Goes on a Diet”

drive, funded by Slimdown 360, at www.

trinbagogoesonadiet.com. Here they tally the

weight loss of all participants to provide an

official Trinidad and Tobago tally.

Del Mano Food is

nearing the end of

an expansion project

aimed at increasing

production capacity

and availability across

the country

delivers portion-controlled, nutrition coach-recommended

breakfast, lunch and dinner (over 100 items) as well as fitness

coaching, lectures, and access to an online community that

encourages members on their path to a healthy lifestyle.

Sustainable agro-processing

As founder and managing director of Slimdown 360,

White’s desire to change the food industry didn’t stop

there. “My goal was to enter retail manufacturing, but

I didn’t know what type of products I wanted to create.

However, I wanted to keep it sustainable.”

The answer to White’s search was grounded in indigenous

root crop staples, literally. “The concept of sweet potato

pasta was first tested for a number of years. Then in 2017 it

was finally launched along with cassava pasta and instant

mashed provisions.”

Slimdown 360’s innovative product line has since

expanded to include fries, gluten-free flours and dried fruit,

all made with local produce. According to White, “Our sweet

potato fries are of a better quality and 30% cheaper than

imported ones. Our pastas are a leading gluten-free option

on Amazon, and we supply roughly 95% of sweet potato

and cassava flour in Trinidad and Tobago.”

A strong presence in mass media and social media, along

with government incentives, have contributed to Slimdown

360’s growth. White’s desire to create healthy Caribbean

food options and revolutionise the local agricultural

industry remains unchanged.

“We exported Trinidad and Tobago’s first ever

container load of sweet potato and cassava

fries, having processed around 20,000

pounds in eight days. I can source raw

materials from abroad, but it’s nice to

know that if I buy from ten farmers

locally, that’s ten families impacted.

There are a lot of challenges in the

agro-processing sector that I know my products can help solve.”

Del Mano Food

Do you know what goes into your sausage? If you’re eating a Del

Mano artisanal sausage, you can rest assured that it’s made from

high-quality ingredients and 100% passion.

Founder Stefan Grosberg doesn’t hide what’s in his handmade local sausages or

what it took to create them. Prior to establishing Del Mano Food, Grosberg always

had an interest in the sector, but wasn’t able to pursue it right away, choosing

instead to follow his family’s business – engineering.

“I studied chemical engineering at the University of Bath and worked at Chevron

Texaco as part of a course, but I knew I wanted more. I wanted a ‘green’ job where

I would help to build a better society. I started Del Mano because I recognised the

value of high-quality, real food. It was founded entirely on passion.”

Through travel, Grosberg was exposed to artisanal markets, and so he embraced

the idea of starting small, using local ingredients to create superior products. From

its humble beginnings in 2013, Del Mano Food was not afraid to carve its own niche.

“Our sweet

potato fries

are of a better

quality and 30%

cheaper than

imported ones.

Our pastas are a

leading glutenfree

option on

Amazon, and we

supply roughly

95% of sweet

potato and

cassava flour

in Trinidad and


courtesy DEL MANO

Del Mano Food’s

chorizo sausages, made

with herbs and paprika

38 DECEMBER 2019 chamber.org.tt

Courtesy Del Mano

Innovation in business

Stefan Grosberg,

owner of Del Mano

Food, displays his

handcrafted artisan


Through travel, Grosberg was

exposed to artisanal markets,

and so he embraced the idea

of starting small, using local

ingredients to create superior


About Del Mano Food

Grosberg says: “When we first started making pesto, the local market was

used to ‘green seasoning’, but we wanted to experiment with different herbs

and pressed on. Similarly, we introduced premium, fresh sausages to the market

which differed greatly from what was readily available such as hot dogs.” Del

Mano was also the first to introduce local gourmet sausages such as Spicy

Chorizo and Geera Pork.

Positioned for growth

As a manufacturer, Grosberg sources local inputs where available. Ideally, he

would like to produce products made entirely of local ingredients grown to high

standards and levels of wholesomeness.

Going artisanal can come at a high cost. “The paprika we make costs 2.5 times

more to make than to import from Spain. That shows how far as a country we

still have to go in the agricultural sector. We are strong believers in integrating a

local supply chain and achieving food security, but there are enormous challenges

in working with Trinidad and Tobago’s food supply structure.”

Still, Grosberg remains hopeful, thanks to the company’s loyal customers, many

of whom have supported the brand since it was launched at UpMarket, a food

and craft market. “Customers appreciate our high quality, and have ultimately

become our brand promoters, sharing it with family and friends.”

Del Mano Food is nearing the end of an expansion project aimed at increasing

production capacity and availability across the country. Look out for the redesigned

Del Mano brand and packaging, the opening of a factory, and continued growth

in retail spaces across Trinidad and Tobago.


Del Mano Food was started

in 2013 and is owned and

operated by Stefan Grosberg. It is

headquartered in Port of Spain


It sells 15 types of sausages made

from a variety of meats, including

pork, beef and lamb, as well as

limited specialty and custom

flavours. It also sells fresh pesto

which uses local ingredients


The sausages are all-natural; they

contain no additives, preservatives

or fillers


You can find Del Mano artisanal

sausages in the freezers of Adam’s

Bagels, Bloom’s Imports, Bodega

– Sips, Snax & Stuff, Fresh,

Massy Stores, Malabar Farms, RT

Morshead, Simple Choice Mart,

SuperPharm, Starlite Pharmacy,

The Happy Gourmet, and through

their website www.delmanofood.



Del Mano supplies many

restaurants and cafés: V & J

Brauhaus, Chaud Café & Wine

Bar, Cazabon Wine and Cocktail

Bar, Buzo Osteria Italiana, Pêche

Pâtisserie, Rizzoni’s Ristorante

Italiano, Dianne’s Tea Shop,

Five The Eatery, Drink Lounge &

Bistro, Taste, Amore Mio, Upicktt,

Woodford Café, Whipped, and

Island Beer Chill & Grill

You can also find them on Facebook

and Instagram pages: @DelManoFood.


DECEMBER 2019 39

Top 5 facts

top 5 facts

Shipping in Trinidad

and Tobago

Courtesy Ramps Logistics

by Ramps Logistics Ltd.

1. Which sector accounts for the greatest tonnage to and from Trinidad

and Tobago?

According to the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s brochure on the maritime

sector, the energy sector accounts for the greatest tonnage to and from this


The maritime sector is a major contributor to the economy of Trinidad and

Tobago and plays a key role in supporting both the energy and non-energy

sectors. Trinidad and Tobago’s connectivity to regional and global markets, its

healthy export base, vibrant energy sector, and low fuel rates are some of the

factors that make this country an attractive maritime location.

Trinidad and Tobago has two major cargo ports: the port of Port of Spain

and the port of Point Lisas. They are among the most highly developed in the

Caribbean. The country also has liquid, dry bulk and liquefied natural gas (LNG)

handling facilities.

2. How much did TEU cargo grow in 2018 at the key commercial ports

in Trinidad and Tobago?

In 2018 the port of Port of Spain

recorded an increase of 6% in the

throughput of containerised cargo.

TEUs (Twenty-Foot Equivalent

Units) increased from 252,159

in 2017 to 267,752 in 2018.

Figure 1 shows that at the port of

Point Lisas there was an increase of

5% in containerised cargo throughput

for 2018 when compared with 2017.

Table1: Container cargo movements in Trinidad,


Port 2017 2018

Port of Spain 252,159 267,752

Point Lisas 162,498 170,951

In 2017, 162,498 TEUs were handled, compared with 170,951 in 2018.

This not only indicates growing volumes of exports and imports but, more

importantly, greater capacity and processing capability at local port facilities.

The collective processing of an extra 20,000+ TEUs in a year is commendable.

3. How does Trinidad and Tobago score on the World Bank Liner

Shipping Connectivity Index (LSCI)?

Ramps Logistics shipment in progress

Figure 1: Growth in TEUs at key commercial ports

in Trinidad & Tobago







The liner connectivity of ports has a large impact on the costs of container

transport in the Caribbean. The World Bank maintains an index called the

Liner Shipping Connectivity Index (LSCI) which tracks the level of connectivity

to global shipping networks. With an LSCI score of 12.36 in 2018, Trinidad

and Tobago is only outranked by The Bahamas and Jamaica among Englishspeaking

Caribbean markets.



Port of Spain


Point Lisas


40 DECEMBER 2019 chamber.org.tt

top 5 facts

Top 5 facts

According to a 2016 Caribbean

Development Bank report, Trinidad is

one of the best connected countries in

the region with 24 services.

4. What effect do delays have on

shipping costs and charges?

Demurrage is a fee assessed on cargo

that exceeds its allotted “free” time at

the terminal. The standard free time

is 4-5 days. Once that expires, a daily

storage fee (demurrage) is charged

until the cargo is removed from the


Daily demurrage charges in Trinidad

and Tobago range from US$75 to

US$150 per container per day for the

first five days or so. Charges generally

increase the longer the cargo stays at

the terminal.

Delays in obtaining external agency

releases can result in a backlog of

imported containers, causing higher

demurrage charges which lead to

increased costs for importers of goods.

5. What is the proportion of domestic

to transhipment business in

Trinidad and Tobago?

The energy sector accounts for

the greatest tonnage to and from

this country

With an LSCI score of 12.36 in

2018, Trinidad and Tobago is only

outranked by The Bahamas and

Jamaica among English-speaking

Caribbean markets

According to a 2016 Caribbean

Development Bank report,

Trinidad is one of the best

connected countries in the region

with 24 services

Some of the largest transhipment

ports in the world are located in the

Caribbean basin, and transhipment is

an important aspect of the container transport industry in the region. Shipping

lines use the hub-and-spoke system to optimise supply chain cost and network


Trinidad and Tobago, strategically located away from the hurricane belt and

between key trade routes connecting North and South America, is an ideal

transhipment point. It is also located 2,200 kilometres away from the Panama

Canal. The average proportion of domestic to transhipment business in Trinidad

is 60% and 40% respectively.

With the resurgence of oil in the Caribbean, drill ships are constantly being

moved through regional waters. Additionally, companies producing commodities

across South America experience great difficulty in getting products out of

Guyana and Venezuela, mainly due to old port infrastructure and inadequate

river draughts.

In fact, most exports from Guyana are currently transhipped through Trinidad.

Trinidad and Tobago’s naturally sheltered harbour in the Gulf of Paria, and its

advanced maritime capabilities and industry support, provide a good foundation

for the expansion of this sector.


SEPT 2019 41





There are several institutions (state enterprises/agencies) in Trinidad and Tobago that can assist exporters in

their endeavours. However, many businesses may not be aware of these export development agencies and

their roles and functions. Here’s a summary of three major institutions in Trinidad and Tobago that provide trade

support services:

1. Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI)

This entity is responsible for growing trade, business and

investment. Here are some of the services they provide:

• Business Development Directorate

Responsible for:

a. Building and maintaining strategic alliances with traderelated


b. Reviewing and monitoring systems for the integration of


c. Identifying areas for improvement with stakeholders.

• Policy and Strategic Directorate

Responsible for:

a. Collecting, analysing and disseminating data and information

regarding trade, business and investments

b. Giving advice on new and existing policies and trade


• Trade Directorate

Responsible for:

a. Negotiating trade agreements

b. Implementing trade agreements

c. Developing National Export Strategy and policies.


Trade Implementation Unit:

implements national obligations for all trade agreements and the

National Aid for Trade Strategy. They also serve as a national

contact for regional cooperation.

Fair Trading Unit:

provides protection to industries from incidents of unfair trade

practices which may range from under-pricing of goods to a

sudden increase in the volume of goods exported.

Trade Licensing Unit:

responsible for administering the import and export of goods;

their objectives are to facilitate investment and promote trade

through government policies. The import/export section conducts

investigations, submits reports and issues licences with respect to

goods subject to import/export control. When exporting goods on

the export negative list an export licence must be obtained prior to

shipment of the item from Trinidad and Tobago.

2. The National Export Facilitation

Organization of Trinidad and Tobago (EXPORTT)

EXPORTT is tasked with catering to the needs of exporters and

generating export growth and diversification in the non-energy

goods and services sectors. They provide a comprehensive

range of services to exporters to increase the number of

exporters and deliver value for money. The various services

available are:

a. Training Unit: this unit offers exporter training which

involves planning and coordinating the execution of training

programmes which build the capacity of exporters to increase

export competitiveness, develop new exporters and increase

access to new markets. It focuses on building the capacity

of the country’s exporters to master the essentials of an

export strategy. Whether it be new or existing exporters, all

initiatives are designed to equip exporters with skills to win

new business and/or generate export leads.

b. Capacity Building and Programme Financing: this unit

focuses on ensuring that companies have export-ready

products and services to enter international markets and

production processes which support export growth. The

capacity building activities include a range of exporter

training programmes, international standards certification

programmes and co-financing of export related costs.

c. Monitoring and Research: provides market intelligence on

virtually any market in the world.

d. Enabling Environment Certificate of Origin: this is where

you can obtain documents declaring that goods being

exported are of a certain origin and qualify for preferential

treatment or duty-free access in accordance with the

relevant Rules of Origin.

3. Ministry of Finance (MOF)

Here you can obtain information on how to export from and

import goods into Trinidad and Tobago. Examples of information

readily available are: documents required to export locally

manufactured products, how to export, and licensable exports.

Export-Import Bank of Trinidad

and Tobago Limited (Eximbank)

Exim House

#30 Queen’s Park West

Port of Spain

(868) 628-2762/1382



Economic outlook

State of the nation

Globally, the impact of Brexit remains uncertain in the UK, and closer to home,

Latin America continues to experience slow growth. The Chamber also considers

the impact of Hurricane Dorian on the Caribbean, and forecasts Trinidad and

Tobago’s performance in the fourth quarter

by Kimberly Browne

Project Assistant, Trade and Business

Development Unit, Trinidad and Tobago

Chamber of Industry and Commerce

Latin America


According to the World Economic Forum, despite

Latin America’s attempt at poverty reduction and the

implementation of political reform initiatives, economies

within the region continue to experience slow growth.

Between 2000 and 2016, GDP has averaged 2.8% per year,

well below the average of 4.8% in 56 other emerging

economies of the world (excluding China).


In August 2019, the International Monetary Fund (IMF)

revised its 2019 economic growth forecast to 0.6% from

the 1.4% which was forecast in April 2019. As this growth

continues to be unevenly distributed

within the region, analysts suggest

that, for growth to become stabilised

and dynamic, inclusive economies

should incorporate and support

medium-sized firms in order to foster

competition and harness the spending

of middle-class consumers, which

could create much-needed demand.

This can be achieved by harnessing

the power of new digital technologies such as FinTech.

Easing of economic development will erode Latin

America’s rate premium over United States policy rates,

which is a key driver of foreign capital inflows into local

stocks and bonds. For example, Brazil is experiencing its

lowest rate on record; at the same time, Chile and Colombia

show the narrowest rate in over ten years.

The Caribbean


In the Caribbean, economic prospects are generally

improving, but with substantial variation across countries.

Growth is expected to strengthen to around 2% in

2019-2020, influenced by reconstruction from the 2017

hurricanes, and supported in tourism-dependent economies

by still strong growth in the US, the main market for tourism

in the region.

In September 2019, parts of The Bahamas – especially

the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama – were devastated

According to the World Economic

Forum, despite Latin America’s

attempt at poverty reduction and

the implementation of political

reform initiatives, economies within

the region continue to experience

slow growth

by category 5 Hurricane Dorian. 4 According to Bloomberg,

analysts expect Dorian to have a substantial impact on the

insurance industry. Data from the 5 Insurance Information

Institute shows that the industry lost US$25 billion, which

would make Dorian the most expensive natural disaster

since 2017’s Hurricane Maria.

The government of The Bahamas has received the first

tranche of a cash payout of nearly US$11 million from

the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF).

The Bahamas has three tropical cyclone policies with

CCRIF, each covering part of the 700-island archipelago

(northwest, southeast and central).

Additionally, The Bahamas has already

provided assurances that its foreign

currency reserves are not under threat

despite the negative impact of Hurricane


According to the governor of the

Central Bank of The Bahamas, John

Rolle, reserves may be impacted next

year, but will not be completely depleted

as the rebuilding on Grand Bahama and in the Abacos

begins. This is likely to be mitigated somewhat by the

reinsurance flows that will benefit The Bahamas in the wake

of the disaster, and by loan funds borrowed by the state.

In Guyana 6 ExxonMobil made a recent oil discovery in

the Stabroek Block offshore, at the Tripletail-1 well in the

Turbot area. This discovery adds to previous estimates of

more than 6 billion oil-equivalent barrels in the Stabroek



2019 oil finds are expected to have a major impact on

the country’s socioeconomic development amidst ongoing

political uncertainty. To mitigate the chances of suffering

under the resource curse that has affected other oil-rich

countries, Owen Verwey, CEO of the Guyana Office for

Investment, notes that the country’s energy officials are

meeting regularly with officials from Scotland and the

Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, to

discuss policy, regulation, enforcement and development.


DECEMBER 2019 43

State of the nation

Growth in the Caribbean is expected to strengthen

to around 2% in 2019-2020, influenced by

reconstruction from the 2017 hurricanes, and

supported in tourism-dependent economies by still

strong US growth, which is the main market for

tourism in the region


Table 1: Latin America and the Caribbean — real GDP growth at

market prices (%)

Latin America &

the Caribbean


Source: International Monetary Fund (IMF)


2019 2020 2019 2020

0.8% 0.6% 0.6% 2.3%

The IMF’s revised GDP growth forecast for Latin America

and the Caribbean remains sluggish (see Table 1).

The figures reflect elevated domestic policy uncertainty in

some large economies, heightened US-China trade tensions,

and the region’s effect on lower global growth.

The domestic landscape: Trinidad and Tobago


Prior to the national budget reading on 7th October 2019,

the business community expressed concern regarding TT$6

billion owed in VAT refunds, the forex shortage, and the

need to improve the ease of doing business.


Trinidad and Tobago’s economic activity in 2019 was

slow-moving in the second quarter, following what analysts

expected to be a healthy turnover from Q1. In Q2, there

was a decline in LNG and natural gas production as well as

overall cement sales. In Q3, annual LNG output rebounded,

while private spending increased with a rise in local vehicle

sales. Moreover, Carifesta, a 10-day arts festival held in

August 2019, should have provided a one-time boost to


Trinidad and Tobago should expect slower growth in

Q4 due to lower crude output and weaker global growth.

44 DECEMBER 2019 chamber.org.tt

State of the nation

Trinidad and Tobago should expect slower growth

in Q4 due to lower crude output and weaker global

growth. However, the Angelin project (offshore gas

production sanctioned by bpTT) and government

spending should help support the economy

However, the Angelin project (offshore gas production

sanctioned by bpTT) and government spending should

help support the economy. Strained commodity prices

along with the crisis in Venezuela continue to pose risks

to Trinidad and Tobago’s economic development. Focus

Economics panellists predicted growth of 1.4% in Q4 2019,

unchanged from the August 2019 forecast, and 1.6% in

2020 (see Table 2).


Table 3: United Kingdom: real GDP growth at market prices (%)



2019 2020 2021 2019 2020 2021

United Kingdom 1.3% 1.0% 1.2% 1.2% 0.8% 1.2%

Source: British Chambers of Commerce

GDP growth forecast for 2019 and 2020 reflect a weaker

outlook for investment, trade and productivity. This is also

affected by the lack of clarity over the outcome of Brexit

and deteriorating global economic conditions.


Table 2: Trinidad and Tobago: GDP Growth at market prices (%)

2019 2020

1.4% 1.6%

Source: Focus Economics

Global outlook


In September 2019, oil prices surged by nearly 20% after

two drone attacks on Saudi Arabian facilities shut out more

than 5% of the world’s supply. About 50% of Saudi Arabia’s

oil output was affected, or 5% of daily global oil production.

It could take weeks before the facilities are fully back on

line. Future impacts are still to be ascertained as the energy

minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, stated that some of

the fall in production would be made up by reserves.

Brent crude, the international benchmark used by oil

traders, increased to US$71.95 a barrel at one point. US oil

prices also spiked, but both trimmed gains as US president

Donald Trump authorised the release of US reserves.


In other trends, data from Germany and China showed

that the current trade wars seem to be problematic for

financial markets as manufacturing-dependent economies

face the challenges of future development, while the bond

market fears the possibility of an American recession.

Stocks and commodities tumbled in Europe and the US

as risk-averse investors raced to the safety of government

bonds, pushing bond prices sharply higher and yields to

low levels not seen in years.

The British Chambers of Commerce latest economic

forecast downgraded growth expectations for the United

Kingdom in 2019 to 1.2% (from 1.3%) and to 0.8% (from

1.0%) for 2020. Its GDP growth forecast of 1.2% remains

unchanged for 2021 (see Table 3).

While the leading business group expects that the UK

economy will avoid a technical recession and return to

modest growth in the third quarter, downgrades to its



Remes, Jaana, et al. “What Happened to Latin America's 'Missing Middle'.” World

Economic Forum, 23 Aug. 2019, www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/08/latin-americafill-missing-middle-economy-digital-tech/


McGeever, Jamie. “Latin America Lacks Ammunition to Fight Global Economic Slowdown.”

Reuters, Thomson Reuters, 20 Aug. 2019, www.reuters.com/article/U.S.-latameconomics-recession-analysis/latin-america-lacks-ammunition-to-fight-global-economic-slowdown-idU.S.KCN1VA1YH


Werner, Alejandro. “Outlook for Latin America and the Caribbean: A Stalling Recovery.”

IMF Blog, 29 July 2019, blogs.imf.org/2019/07/29/outlook-for-latin-america-andthe-caribbean-a-stalling-recovery/


Hadfield, Will. “Hurricane Dorian Likely to Cause $25 Billion of Losses, UBS Says.”

Bloomberg.com, Bloomberg, 2 Sept. 2019, 6:05 am, www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-09-02/hurricane-dorian-likely-to-cause-25-billion-of-losses-ubs-says


“Facts + Statistics: Hurricanes.” Insurance Information Institute, Sept. 2019, www.iii.



“ExxonMobil Announces Oil Discovery Offshore Guyana at Tripletail.” Manchester

Times, 16 Sept. 2019, www.manchestertimes.com/news/bU.S.iness/exxonmobil-announces-oil-discovery-offshore-guyana-at-tripletail/article_ef8d0f04-61a3-510bb946-06efe3a25326.html


Guthrie, Craig. “Guyana Tipped for Another Find.” Petroleum Economist, 6 Sept. 2019,




Alejandro. “Outlook for Latin America and the Caribbean: A Stalling Recovery.” IMF

Blog, 29 July 2019, blogs.imf.org/2019/07/29/outlook-for-latin-america-and-thecaribbean-a-stalling-recovery/


Kowlessar-Alonzo, Geisha. “New Measures Needed for Sustainable Economic Growth

– Trinidad Guardian.” Digital Publishing Software, Guardian Media, 10 Sept. 2019,





FocusEconomics. “Trinidad & Tobago Economy – GDP, Inflation, CPI and Interest

Rate.” FocusEconomics | Economic Forecasts from the World's Leading Economists, 10

Sept. 2019, www.focU.S.-economics.com/countries/trinidad-tobago


“BCC Forecast: Business Investment and Productivity Sinking amid Brexit Stalemate

and Global Slowdown.” British Chambers of Commerce, 16 Sept. 2019, www.britishchambers.org.uk/news/2019/09/bcc-forecast-bU.S.iness-investment-and-productivity-sinking-amid-brexit-stalemate-and-global-slowdown


“Oil Prices Soar after Attacks on Saudi Facilities.” BBC News, BBC, 16 Sept. 2019,



Phillips, Matt. “Stock Markets, Jolted by Economic Worry, Suffer 2nd Worst Drop

of 2019.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 14 Aug. 2019, www.nytimes.



“BCC Forecast: Business Investment and Productivity Sinking amid Brexit Stalemate

and Global Slowdown.” British Chambers of Commerce, 16 Sept. 2019, www.britishchambers.org.uk/news/2019/09/bcc-forecast-business-investment-and-productivitysinking-amid-brexit-stalemate-and-global-slowdown


DECEMBER 2019 45

Energy update

Energy update

by Reagan Stroude

Research Officer, Trade and Business Development Unit,

Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce

Local crude oil and natural gas production and usage

➤ As can be seen in Figure 1, when

comparing Q2 data from 2018 and 2019,

between the top three producers there

was an average decline in oil production of

approximately 17%. Over the same period

there was a modest decrease in natural gas

output of approximately -7.4% (Figure 4).

Figure 3 also shows that the LNG sector

continues to be the major user of natural

gas locally, utilising an average 56% of

total production

Fig. 1: Top oil producers (avg. bopd)




HPCL (offshore)


HPCL (land)






HPCL (offshore)


HPCL (land)



Fig. 2: Imports vs exports of crude oil (barrels)













➤ Comparing Q2 data of 2018 and

2019, it can be seen in Figure 1 that

HPCL (offshore) has remained the top

oil producer for this period, despite a

significant decrease in output compared

to 2018 figures. It is important to note

that during Q4 of 2018, the domestic

oil refinery was closed, leading to oil

imports being halted for that period;

this is shown in Figure 2.

Fig. 3: Natural gas utilisation by sector

Q2 2019 (avg. mmscf/d)










Iron & Steel




Fig. 4: Top local natural gas producers

Q2 2018 vs Q2 2019 (avg. mmscf/d)















Source: MEEI Consolidated Reports 2018 & 2019

46 DECEMBER 2019 chamber.org.tt

Energy update

Comparing Q2 data of 2018 and 2019’s production and export

levels for energy and downstream products



➤ A comparison between 2018 and

2019 shows that overall natural gas

production levels declined significantly

in the months of April and June of 2019,

when compared against 2018 date for

the same time period.

➤ Crude oil condensate production

over Q2 of 2019 remained deflated when

compared with 2018 figures.

➤ With the exception of urea,

downstream products generally showed

slight improvements over their 2018

values for the periods shown.


























Natural gas production (mmscf/d)

April May June

Ammonia production (mega tonnes)

April May June





















Crude oil condensate production (bopd)

April May June

Ammonia exports (mega tonnes)

April May June

Methanol production (mega tonnes)

Methanol exports (mega tonnes)















380 0

April May June




Urea production (mega tonnes)

Urea exports (mega tonnes)


64 70
















54 0

April May June




Source: MEEI Consolidated Reports 2018 & 2019


DECEMBER 2019 47

The Chamber and its members

Welcome, new members!

The Chamber extends a warm welcome to companies and individuals

who have become members in recent months

Constellation Development

Services Ltd.

Real estate services &

vacation rentals



Ecotox Environmental

Services Ltd.

Environment and occupational

testing services



El Dorado Offshore

Trinidad Ltd.

Customs brokerage,

operational ground

support for international

companies, manpower supply

and associated services,

procurement and real estate




The Customer Experience

Co. Ltd.

Design, develop and deliver

customer service strategies




Lyndi Jordan


Your choice in ICT solutions and

services across the Caribbean,

Central & South America.

Group PBS

Unit 23, Fernandes Industrial Centre,

Eastern Main Road, Laventille

Trinidad & Tobago

Tel: +1 (868) 624-4776 / 299-0070 Ext. 288

Cel: +1 (868) 763-5560


Facebook: Group PBS

48 DECEMBER 2019 chamber.org.tt

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