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TEN TALKING POINTS ON TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO’S 2016 BUDGET
he 2016 Budget of Trinidad and Tobago was keenly anticipated, especially coming on the heels of a change in cabinet and a related manifesto and campaign which would have necessarily birthed particular expectations, as well as amidst a fragile international and precarious national economic climate. With falling oil prices and concerns over fiscal mismanagement, compounded by the decline in the local production of natural gas, newly appointed Finance Minister Colm Imbert was given the daunting task of developing strategies that would allow for the re-alignment of the economy, through the swift adoption of a frugal approach and the creation of a climate of austerity. Furthermore the minister had to allay the fears and concerns of all citizens: economists, political scientists, the business community, investors and the average citizen alike. According to Dr. Roy McCree, Sociologist at the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies at the University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago, “the budget represented an attempt to balance the imperatives of economic adjustment with the political imperatives of keeping certain campaign promises like the reduction in VAT.” Below are ten of the major talking points of the budget. This list is of course subjective as specific details would have resonated differently with different individuals dependent on the role they play and space they occupy within the local economic space:
Written by Alicia Martin
THE BUDGET REPRESENTED AN ATTEMPT TO BALANCE THE IMPERATIVES OF ECONOMIC ADJUSTMENT WITH THE POLITICAL IMPERATIVES OF KEEPING CERTAIN CAMPAIGN PROMISES LIKE THE REDUCTION IN VAT 1. New fuel rates The Minister pointed to a 15% increase in fuel and diesel prices which would have immediate effect. According to Mr. Imbert the subsidy on fuel cost $19b in the last fiscal year. Consumers will experience an increase in super gas to $3.11 per litre, up from $2.70. Diesel has been increased to $1.72 from $1.50 per litre. This initiative is expected to decrease govern-
2. Improvements to the transportation system The Minister announced major developments with regard to improving the local transportation system. Particularly, there are plans to complete the Solomon Hochoy Highway extension to Point Fortin and the San Fernando to Mayaro Highway as well as to construct a better road from Princes Town to Moruga. Additionally the removal of all traffic lights between Port of Spain and Sangre Grande and the construction of ring roads and other infrastructure within Port of Spain, Chaguanas and Scarborough are meant to ease the intense traffic frustrations which are experienced on the nation’s roads. These initiatives are therefore welcomed; however measures must be implemented to ensure that there are no excessive cost overruns given the state of the economy. Also these projects must also be environmentally sustainable. In the case of Tobago, there are plans to introduce a new fast ferry from Tobago and also to work on the airport terminal in Tobago which is in dire need of reform.
3. A focus on sports Sports received special focus in the recent budget. The desire ment expenditure on the fuel to mainstream sports in a bid subsidy by approximately $340 to make Trinidad and Tobago a million. While citizens have world class sporting nation was expressed concern over how expressed. Relatedly the estabthese increases would translate lishment of a national sports into other increases, particularly stitute to enable sports tourism as it relates to transportation was forecast. If implemented and food, these fears have yet in the right way, this can be an to be realized. The president of excellent tool to diversify the the Route 2 Maxi Taxi Associa- economy as well as develop the tion has gone so far as to ensure country’s potential athletes, commuters that they will not who have been excelling on loexperience an increase in fares. cal, regional and international www.amgtt.com • OCTOBER, 2015 • ABSTRACT BUSINESS 1
LOCAL BUSINESS stages despite inappropriate facilitates at home. The existence of adequate training facilities can serve to improve the performances of these athletes and consequentially through their achievements, market the country. 4. The development of an entrepreneurial culture The bolstering of The National Entrepreneurship Development Company Limited (NEDCO) to not only function more effectively but specifically create an entrepreneurial culture among the nation’s youth was another key feature in the budget. This is a major endeavor as it is imperative that all our citizens engage in entrepreneurship, particularly from a young age to reduce unemployment, reduce dependency on welfare initiatives as well as stimulate the economy. 5. The activation of the Tamana Intech Park and the Piarco AeroPark The Tamana Intech Park and the Piarco AeroPark are to be activated. Again this is a worthwhile plan given that revenue from energy companies has significantly declined as a result of low world oil prices. Our own decrease in production is worrying given that the production from new wells will take approximately five years. The potential for these parks to facilitate the use of Information and Communication Technology, agro-industrial and high value manufacture processes represents strong investment potential with regard to Business Process Outsourcing. Their activation can therefore serve to diversify the economy as the centers can be used for data creation, telemarketing, help-desks and contact centers. 6. The Agricultural sector to be stimulated Efforts are being made to stimulate the agricultural sector. 2
Various incentives, such as the Prime Minister’s Award for the best kitchen garden in schools, are to be offered. Relevant bodies will also enjoy exemptions on all duties and taxes on various inputs into the agricultural sector. This is a healthy development not only to diversify the economy but also to reduce the food import bill. At a recent Post Budget Forum hosted at the Daaga Auditorium at the St Augustine campus of the University of the West Indies by the university’s Department of Economics and the Trinidad and Tobago Group of Professional Associations Limited, Dr. Roger Hosein hinted that underemployed workers can be better utilized within the agricultural industry as a means to reduce the demand for foreign exchange, a situation which has been quite problematic within recent times. 7. Housing issues to be addressed Despite the previous government’s housing allocation drive, hundreds of citizens are increasingly distressed owing to the challenges of owning their own homes. Minister Imbert in his maiden budgetary contribution has announced that there will be an expansion of
ABSTRACT BUSINESS • OCTOBER, 2015 • www.amgtt.com
the housing programme. This will include subsidized housing loans, grants, cash supports and home repairs. The rent to own home ownership plan will also be reintroduced. It is hoped that these measures will redound to potential home owners within the shortest possible timeframe. 8. The implementation of the Property Tax Properties are characterized as Residential and Commercial, Industrial and Agricultural. The current legislation dictates that the Property Tax will be computed as a percentage of the Annual Taxable value (ATV) of the property. For instance residential properties will be taxed at a rate of 3% of ATV while commercial properties will be taxed at the rate of 5% of ATV. The Property Tax Act was approved on 31 December, 2009 but taxpayers have enjoyed a moratorium since then. It is hoped that this will reverse the $1.0 billion in revenue that was lost and ultimately assist in reversing budget deficits related to contracting revenue and increasing expenditure. While some understand that this may have been inevitable given the need for the country to regain financial strength, others are
not looking forward to this addition to their personal expenditure. 9. An increase in the stipend for On the Job (OJT) trainees The stipend for trainees in this programme will increase by 20% from December 1st. This will cost the government approximately $62 million and is supposed to attract more young people to the programme as well as reduce unemployment. It remains to be seen how many qualified youth will be absorbed into the job environment since many have complained of being on long waiting lists with regards to the OJT. It might be essential to deepen collaborations with corporate Trinidad and Tobago to alleviate these issues as more young persons need to benefit from the training and also the increase. 10. The introduction of a Graduate Recruitment Programme This programme will include all 23 ministries and is geared toward unemployed university graduates. At least 500 graduates will benefit at a cost of $55 million. While the country has embarked on a worthwhile initiative to increase access to tertiary education, lamentably, there is not a sufficient employment climate to absorb the thousands of graduates who are churned out each year by various institutions. This programme, if effectively implemented can ensure that monies (such as via GATE) spent are returned in terms of productivity. A reduction in the unemployment rate can also be experienced. Furthermore the country will reap social and economic benefits when skilled professionals are able to make contributions within their homeland toward the improvement of life here as opposed to taking their skills abroad after failed attempts to gain employment.
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Potential Benefits Of The Re-Introduction Of Property Tax
ho benefits from property tax? Property tax is an annual tax on real property, founded on the concept of market value, usually paid by the owner to the Government. The tax rate varies, depending on the property classification and use. Property tax has been in existence all over the world and has often been the subject of political debate. Property tax is a more stable and reliable revenue source than any other tax. Property tax systems are more open and visible than those for other taxes. Although property tax is often disregarded by citizens of a country, Re-introduction of property tax, may benefit the overall social and economic development of a country. Property Tax can help fund public expenditure and contribute to the repayment of cumulative public debt. The fact that land and building are immobile, means that taxpayers cannot relocate to another jurisdiction, to avoid the levy, unless they sell their assets. With a well administered property tax system, local authorities can count on a predictable source of income. This tax can improve local services and infrastructure; the government can finance provision of water, schools and roads, just to name a few.
Property taxation finances the government, not fully but enough to make the fiscal independence of local government meaningful. This permits decentralization of government, which may be considered a benefit which enables citizens to exercise choice over the public services they receive. When a country is in public debt, the collection of property tax from property owners can be used to repay debts. The decline in the price of oil in recent years, for example, has led to a decrease in the funds available to a country. The need for local government to generate adequate revenue from internal sources has become a matter of urgency and importance for some. The government may impose property taxes to assure an income to the government at all times of its tax revenue no matter the circumstances in order to repay public debt, this can also aid, in the fiscal redistribution of income to assist the country’s development. A reduction of inequality may be a benefit of property tax. The rapid growth of emerging economies has lifted hundreds of people out of poverty around the world. Apart from just that, a property tax payer avails benefits from the community he is staying in such as the building of librar-
WHEN A COUNTRY IS IN PUBLIC DEBT, THE COLLECTION OF PROPERTY TAX FROM PROPERTY OWNERS CAN BE USED TO REPAY DEBTS 4
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ies and cleaning of the streets thus, creating employment while providing a place for personal development. Some property tax payers benefit from a deduction. This deduction is a subtraction of assessed value for a property, prior to the calculation of tax liability. Deductions are the most common type of property tax relief available to tax payers and include relief for a mortgage property. Property developers, for instance, may be less inclined to hoard undeveloped properties
if they had to pay an annual levy on them. This can give ordinary citizens an opportunity to purchase a property. Property taxes can promote efficient use of property, thereby further stimulating development and growth. Imposing a tax cost on property ownership to some degree maybe independent from the actual use of the property. Property taxes are frequently considered as providing an important incentive for property owners to secure a more efficient use of their property.
EYE ON FDI
AFRICA, AN UPCOMING FDI DESTINATION
he term Foreign Direct Investment or FDI is synonymous with financial terms such as reinvesting profits, building new facilities or mergers and acquisitions. However, FDI refers to a controlling ownership in a business enterprise in one country by an entity based in another country. This investment may be established either through the purchase of a company in the target country or by expanding operations of an existing business in that country. As it pertains to a country, FDI is defined as the net inflows of investment to acquire a lasting management interest in an enterprise operating in an economy other than that of the investor. According to a report by the Daily Financial Times, India is currently ranked as the most favoured destination for FDI in 2015. They are followed closely by China and the US. The 1st and 2nd quarter of 2015 saw India enjoy $31Billion of foreign capital inflows and further solidifies their position at the top of the FDI rankings. Simultaneously, while India has experienced increased growth in that sphere, Africa is poised to become a prospective FDI. The continent is now ranked as the 2nd most attractive upcoming investment destination in the world. According to the World Bank, Sub-Saharan Africa is still experiencing growth. This is a direct result of sound macro-economic policies and diversification of the economy. FDI in the region has hit a record $60 billion which is an increase five times that of its recorded level since 2000. The increase was due to intra African investment which further encouraged foreign 6
AN INCREASE IN OIL DISCOVERIES AND MINERALS HAS ALSO ATTRACTED ADDITIONAL INVESTMENTS TO THE CONTINENT investment. The world’s investors are paying close attention to Africa’s market of one billion people, a growing middle class and increasing investment opportunities. Africa’s non-commodity sectors such as financial services, construction and manufacturing now account for 50% of Chinese FDI in Africa. Due to rising production costs in Asia, investors have been forced to ascertain more cost effective investment locations such as Africa. Countries such as China, Turkey and India are among the top job creators in Africa’s manufacturing sector. In the future it’s possible that “made in Ethiopia” may also be the new production tag line as it was previously a subset attached to China. There are several opportunities attached to Africa as
ABSTRACT BUSINESS • OCTOBER, 2015 • www.amgtt.com
a budding FDI destination. An increasingly skilled labour force is intricately connected to their ability to capitalise on growing FDI inflows. They would also need to increase their technological capacity. An increase in oil discoveries and minerals has also attracted additional investments to the continent. The flowing FDIs would translate to improved infrastructure. In order for Africa to fully realise its potential as a FDI previously overlooked, access to electricity as well as enhanced ICTs needs to be targeted. FDI plays a vital role in supplying necessities, reducing poverty, developing skills, and more. FDI would help to diversify the continent’s economies, many of which are over dependent on extracting and exporting natu-
ral resources. Earlier this year, the “Investing in Africa Forum,” was jointly hosted by the government of Ethiopia, China Development Bank (CDB), the World Bank Group (WBG), and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) as a means of boosting responsible investment on the continent. At this forum, the policy makers, development partners, and foreign and local private investors discussed what would be necessary to propel Africa as the next great investment destination. Africa now has a unique opportunity to strategically attract, job-creating investment. In order to achieve this, strong partnerships would need to be cultivated between the private sector and governments, between African countries and their neighbors, between Africa and non-neighbor countries and most importantly between Africa and its development partners.
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Are Cultural Problems Killing Our Local Economy?
ulture has been simply defined as a way of life. It relates to the way in which occupants of a particular social space manipulate symbols such as words and behavior and negotiate meanings in order to interact with one another. Embedded in culture are norms and values. These are the signposts of our lives as they direct us as to how to live. Naturally culture is not universal as different groups determine what is important and should be appropriated by their members. Individuals are socialized into the norms and values of their society firstly by their primary group, which includes their parents and guardians, and secondly by their schools, religious and other social groups, peers and the media. Max Weber in his book, ‘The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism’ (1904), traced the development of modern capitalism in Northern Europe arguing that it was the work ethic of a group of Protestants called the Calvinists which was the catalyst to its development. According to him this group practiced particular values such as hard work and frugality, values which he believed represented the spirit of capitalism. Weber was thus keen to note that workers are the backbone of
the economy. Their approach to their work is therefore of primary importance. Their approach will be informed by what they consider to be acceptable and important, what is normal in their environment, what they are socialized into either formally or informally. There have been many deliberations over the last year as to how we can improve the Trinidad and Tobago economy at a time when we are experiencing the downsides of being a part of a global economy – what affects one affects all. Apart from fiscal policies and financial reforms, it might be worthwhile to consider what part nationals can play in improving the state of the economy. Is it necessary for us as a collective body to review values and behaviors which may be hurting us on a social and economic level? One of the major points as it pertains to work ethic revolves around punctuality, regularity and overall productivity. According to the Global Competitiveness Report 2015, Trinidad and Tobago is ranked 89 out of 144 countries. Switzerland tops the list followed by Singapore. Along with inefficient governance and corruption, the report also cites poor work ethic among the factors which are considered problematic for foreign investors. The economy
ONE OF THE MAJOR POINTS AS PERTAINS TO WORK ETHIC REVOLVES AROUND PUNCTUALITY, REGULARITY AND OVERALL PRODUCTIVITY 8
ABSTRACT BUSINESS • OCTOBER, 2015 • www.amgtt.com
BIZ HEALTH suffers when workers do not execute their maximum level of productivity. While there may not be proper documentation of poor work behavior, one can simply walk into some government offices in particular or be familiar with a few relatives in the public service or furthermore reflect on one’s own behavior to ascertain how many hours were stolen from employers within a given week. A type of socialization often occurs on the job as new workers are even bullied into stretching out work tasks and conforming to negative work behaviors so as not to ‘show up’ seasoned workers. For a reversal of this to occur there must be a total rebranding, retraining and assessment and evaluation of all staff. Stiffer penalties must also be incurred for failure to abide by work rules and standards. Unions must be cooperative for the larger benefit of country and new workers must be sufficiently oriented. As regards the existence of negative cultures within programmes such as CPEP and URP, there must be proper monitoring and total re- evaluation to ensure that
these programmes are meeting their objectives and are not reinforcing poor values and straining the economy by encouraging dependency which is arguably the case. Another major cultural issue which may be affecting our economy negatively revolves around the culture among young males within our country. Selwyn Ryan’s 2013 report entitled ‘No time to quit: Engaging Youth at Risk Executive Report of the Committee on Young Males and Crime in Trinidad and Tobago’, addressed the debates surrounding male marginalization and the underperformance of males. The study also focused on their involvement in crime and gang related activity. It suggested that young males in particular who are deemed to be ‘at risk’ be exposed to community and
educational programmes so as to engage in positive selfchange. It is imperative that our males are not left behind as their contribution to the economy is important. Key stakeholders within the education system should be keen to observe vulnerable males and refer them to the relevant professionals such as counselors and remedial teachers. While vocational training has been supported by government, there is need for a more structured approach in this area. It will also be beneficial for sport and music to be considered as viable alternatives, especially as the country seeks to explore sport and creative arts as industries through which the economy can be diversified. While the average man on the streets may be looking to the government to hear of mac-
A TYPE OF SOCIALIZATION OFTEN OCCURS ON THE JOB AS NEW WORKERS ARE EVEN BULLIED INTO STRETCHING OUT WORK TASKS AND CONFORMING TO NEGATIVE WORK BEHAVIORS SO AS NOT TO ‘SHOW UP’ SEASONED WORKERS
roeconomic policies geared toward rehabilitating our economy, at this stage it is important that each of us review our norms and values as they pertain to productivity and work to determine to what extent we ourselves can be a part of the solution. Whether it is improving our work ethic or becoming a mentor to our males, we can each make a difference. It may be difficult for one person to see the effect that they can have on what might be seem to be such a large structure but the smallest stone makes a ripple in a pond and that is the attitude which we must possess. A further example relates to our culture with regard to entrepreneurship. How do we promote entrepreneurial values? This can start in the home and critically the school at all levels – kindergarten, primary, secondary and tertiary. In the same way that the Calvinists possessed and practiced the spirit of capitalism, so too we must induce a spirit of entrepreneurship among our youth as this is one of the major avenues though which our economy can be impacted in a positive way.
www.amgtt.com • OCTOBER, 2015 • ABSTRACT BUSINESS
ABSTRACT BUSINESS GUIDE
Health And Fitness Industry Experiencing Mini Boom Written by Leah Lewis
he Health and Fitness industry is currently experiencing resurgence in popularity or what some would call a mini boom here in Trinidad and Tobago. It seems everywhere you look there is a new fitness group, health product or weight loss program all guaranteed to give you the results you have been searching for. This is a result of a fairly young segment of our population that is taking health and fitness seriously and is also impacting or motivating the more mature audience to do the same. Of course, this works in reverse since there are also some well advanced mature individuals that make the issue of youth irrelevant as it relates to their ability to exercise. When you think of health and fitness the 1st things that may pop into your mind are diet and gym. However, as with everything else, the health and fitness industry has grown and shifted. Now persons are open to a myriad of workout programs and styles as well as different techniques to ensure they also acquire balanced nutrition. When it comes to health and fitness, nutrition forms a huge sector of one’s progress. Not everyone can properly follow a diet and endure the rigors of cutting foods out. For some it’s simply that we don’t
even know where to start. Now there are several local chefs that actually cater meals to suit your fitness lifestyle. Those who prefer supplement diet assistance have also been making headway through Herballife and Nutrilite which are meal supplements that aid in weight loss as well as weight management. Traditionally, when people thought of losing weight or gaining (according to your personal goals) their first point of contact was the gym. There you got a personal trainer and also had to pay the cost for using the gym’s facilities. This quickly adds up. Also not everyone likes the atmosphere of a gym and some may even be intimidated. This brought on a shift towards outdoor exercise. It’s amazing how well one can achieve a great workout by simply using one’s body weight. Trainers have capitalised on this and are now taking you to the gym anywhere and anytime you want, simply name the place. The great thing about the outdoor workout (besides the great view and fresh air) is that it can be altered with so many variations so you never get bored. As mentioned before, your “gym” location can change at any time. Trainers can bring the weight equipment to you.
NOW PERSONS ARE OPEN TO A MYRIAD OF WORKOUT PROGRAMS AND STYLES AS WELL AS DIFFERENT TECHNIQUES TO ENSURE THEY ALSO ACQUIRE BALANCED NUTRITION 10 ABSTRACT BUSINESS • OCTOBER, 2015 • www.amgtt.com
The style of the workout is also flexible as it can also include strength, cardio, resistance or endurance training. You name it, the possibilities are endless. There are several fitness clubs or groups that have been gaining momentum within the last 2 years. Most of them have sprung up from persons who were previously involved in sports such as athletics or football and are now using this knowledge to assist individuals with their weight and health goals. There are also those who have been formerly trained and are certified fitness professionals such as Five
Star Fitness Factory, Precision Fitness and Fit Addicts. They cater to group fitness as well as individual attention depending on your preference. Five Star Fitness Factory also caters to the corporate client that cares about enhancing the health and fitness of its employees. FitAddicts in particular offers personal trainer services to local celebs such as Patrice Roberts and Nadia Batson. Whoever you choose as you venture along this road of health and fitness make sure they are certified and can skillfully guide you to make informed fitness decisions.
ABSTRACT BUSINESS GUIDE
5 Common Money Mistakes Business Owners Make Written by Shera Diaz
ongratulations to all those who’ve beaten the odds, to create a successful business, without any money mistakes. Running a business has advantages and dis-advantages. Business proprietors get so involved in spending money to give the business a good status, they forget about critical short-term and longterm tasks that can improve financial stability. According to Gunderson, the two greatest forms of capital in a business are your mental capital (your product and service expertise) and relationship capital (your audience, platform, and organization, clients, family and friends). Mental Capital + Relationship Capital =Financial Capital. Making overhead investments too soon, spending on do-it-yourself projects, mixing personal and business finances, putting all your eggs in one basket and over advertising are a few mistakes businesses make. Making overhead investments too soon: Many businesses invest in renting another office space or expensive equipment a lot sooner than needed. A business is an investment not a spending spree. As a business owner evaluate
what you have before spending on what you don’t need right away. Crafting a strategic plan can help in the management of resources by determining priority issues. Too often businesses combine personal and business finances. Your personal finances should be kept personal. It is tempting to use your business card to swipe for the piece of jewelry you have been looking at for some time now, but keeping personal finances separate is the best way to manage your business finances and book keeping. As a business owner building your business credit is important. Create a business identity that is separate from a personal financial identity; this will provide your enterprise with more credibility and a greater sense of legitimacy. Although business and personal finance should never intertwine it's important to budget your personal finances to ensure that you have savings to draw from in the coming months. Spending on do-it-yourself projects is an error that entrepreneurs tend to make. Stop spending for do-it-yourself projects. You do not always need to hire a contractor or management team to get your
ALTHOUGH BUSINESS AND PERSONAL FINANCE SHOULD NEVER INTERTWINE IT'S IMPORTANT TO BUDGET YOUR PERSONAL FINANCES TO ENSURE THAT YOU HAVE SAVINGS TO DRAW FROM IN THE COMING MONTHS 12 ABSTRACT BUSINESS • OCTOBER, 2015 • www.amgtt.com
job done. There are simple tasks you can do yourself or you can even get employees to assist as a project at the business. For something as simple as rearranging the office for more office space, each employee can assist by re-arranging their desk to see how best they can work with the space. Business functions can be seen as a team building exercise, employees can all chip in and manage each section whether it be customer service or catering for example, this can also build your team work. Putting all your eggs in one basket is not a good idea. Why risk 100% of your wealth on a single investment? Having only one employee master a function is bad for business. While it may be good to make an investment in only one expert who knows the day-today running of your business, if something happens to the said individual or he/ she resigns, where would this leave your organization? Re-invest
your income for future operations rather than only depending on your irregular income to promote future growth for your business. Spending too much on advertising can make or break your business especially in the case of small and startup enterprises. In an age of increasingly short attention spans, many businesses may think that creating massive advertising campaigns is the only way to get their message heard. While this may be a good way to get the message out, this can be costly and affect the profitability of the business. Most advertising focuses on a particular target market. For instance, an advertisement may take several hours or days to create, and may cost thousands but only reach a limited segment of the targeted market. The use of a more cost-effective marketing tool such as word of mouth and social media may be more applicable to new startups and small businesses.
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MARC DE VERTEUIL
Director of Papa Bois Conservation
here are constant pleas from environmentalist worldwide, urging persons to change behavioral patterns as both wildlife and marine life are facing extinction. Yet many persons are still unaware of what needs to be done. Director of Papa Bois Conservation, Marc De Verteuil shared with ABG some of the fundamental issues affecting the nation’s ecosystems and a detailed insight as to what can be done to prevent further damage. He also shared with us the story behind Papa Bois and ways in which persons can volunteer with the organization. Read the full interview down below. ABG: What was the deciding factor/s for establishing Papa Bois Conservation? Marc: Trinidad & Tobago is blessed with abundant and diverse natural splendor. There are few countries in the world where you can be in a mountain rainforest, observing golden tree frogs (very hard to find) and then within a few hours travel visit a swamp filled with monkeys, anacondas and manatees. Do you know that National Geographic magazine promoted Trinidad as one of its recommended destinations a while ago? They promoted turtle watching at Grande Riviere and Bird Watching at Asa Wright as two must-do destinations in one small island. For all its biodiversity, Trinidad is also a heavily developed, industrialized island. We have taken our natural splendor and wealth
for granted and used it in a way that means we are in danger of losing it. PBC was founded to create awareness about environmental issues using videos, photos and all sorts of media so that Trinbagonians can see what T&T has to offer. One of our slogans is that if people do not know something exists, they cannot care about it. First of all our mission is to show the people of T&T how blessed we are. We then try to mobilize that awareness to achieve positive change for the environment. We do this via mobilization of public awareness and opinion, and direct lobbying with policy makers. ABG: Tell us a little about the organization. Marc: PBC is a volunteer organization. It consists of 3 directors: Robin Ramdeen, a marine biologist, Stephen Broadbridge, a renowned tour guide and myself. We have many volunteers who we call on from time to time. I like to think of PBC as an environmental media organization. ABG: What is your role at PBC? Marc: The organizational structure at PBC is quite loose. I am the founder of PBC, but all directors have an equal say in the running of PBC. In practice I am the one who promotes most of PBC’s social media, conducts coordination with journalists as a way of getting environmental stories in the news. In addition I organize beach clean-ups and do school out reach projects. It is a bit of everything.
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ABG: How do you gain insight on environmental issues? Marc: I do not have a degree in an environmental area but I have put in my 10,000 hours, or more, of studies. I rely heavily on media reports, experts and peer reviewed articles to learn about threats and solutions. ABG: At what age did you start having a keen interest in the environment? Marc: I always liked pretty things and to me nature is the prettiest of all. This has always been the same. I think of myself as an aesthetic environmentalist first of all. Later in life I came to understand that the beauty depends on the cycle of life, on well functioning and healthy ecosystems. ABG: Was this shaped by values instilled in you at a young age? Marc: My father was a tremendously knowledgeable man. He was a walking encyclopedia. His interests were wide, from politics, philosophy and history to nature. That rubbed off on me, but I have a terrible memory though. ABG: What are some of the issues, in your opinion that are negatively affecting the ecosystem? Marc: Overpopulation, overconsumption and wrong consumption and in Trinidad the
absence of effective governance. Rapid population growth makes sustainable environmental management harder. In Trinidad the population growth is leveling off. Traditional economists deplore this but endless growth was never an option. My grandfather was born in 1912. In that year T&T’s population was 300,000. Today it is about 1.3M. Is it a surprise that progress of life means seeing natural areas being destroyed for human habitation? We are rapidly seeing even the area around Caroni swamp being developed. In my opinion low birth rates must be encouraged – we need to go towards a negative birthrate that is less than replacement. This is anathema to traditional economists but there are eco villages in Scotland where people follow a vegetarian lifestyle and use renewable energy and still their eco footprint is not sustainable. We can gamble on one day getting it right through not-yet developed technologies and future expectations, or we can act sensible and discourage population growth. Japan is a good example of a country where the population is in rapid decline, debt is 200+ % of GDP and yet per capita income grows, because even though there is little economic growth, population growth is smaller. Can you think out of the box? Overconsumption will become extraordinarily self-evident
TRUMP CARD during the coming Christmas season. Does it make anybody happier? All the plastic junk and soon to be outdated new stuff? We always want newer and better. A brand new car will make us happy – but that happiness is dependent on making one self feel superior to others who don’t have that model. Proof? See if you want to drive the exact same car 20 years from now. It is just evolutionary posturing of course. Male jaws have become weaker because we no longer compete for female attention and dominance in the group through throwing fists at each other. A thick jaw no longer makes for better survival chances. Now it is the ability to provide and more so the ability to provide compared to others. The sky will be the limit because the bar will always be laid higher. It is an evolutionary trait that endangers the species and the planet. The wrong consumption. We use fossil fuels that are changing the atmosphere and the chemistry of the oceans. There is no need for fossil fuels. If there were a Manhattan project for renewable energy then fossil fuels would be on the way out very soon. As it is the fossil fuel industry is leveraging its power, accumulating lobbying strength through massive investments from pension funds, governments, private investors and just about everybody. The fossil fuel industry will not back down peacefully because it is a business, and the purpose of business is to make money. There is simply too much money on the table. Renewable energy is the best bet for the planet and it is now also becoming cheaper. Onshore wind energy is already cheaper than natural gas for electricity. This is especially the case when the environmental cost of fossil fuels is calculated. States will continue to subsidize the fossil fuel industry for the foreseeable future, based on crank economics, the interests of wide
investor groups, and the kicking-the-can-down-the-road attitude towards climate change. We can be short about the effectiveness of government in T&T. Most ministries are overly bureaucratic and have little capacity. Unless T&T fixes its civil service it will never be able to achieve change. Ministers focus on projects but they need to focus on having efficient ministries that can do the job. ABG: As part of a company’s CSR initiative, what are some of the things you think should be included that can be beneficial to the environment? Marc: Capacity building. Invest in people. Educate. ABG: Besides CSR initiatives, what can businesses do to help the environment? Marc: Don’t wait for the government to regulate. Businesses
can recycle and use renewable energy today. Do you really need to wait for us to come and film your toxic water discharge? Your air pollution? If you are a high energy consumption business and you are burning up our cheap natural gas because you figured here is a nice place where you don’t have much in the way of environmental laws and plenty subsidized energy, then you are on the wrong side of history. ABG: Recycling is often taught is school. However do you think that is the most effective way to educate the society on recycling? Marc: Start brainwashing children from young. There need to be ads on TV and social media, and posters in schools and messages on the sides of busses. The best way to educate about recycling may well be to simply implement it. How can Trini-
dadians learn about recycling when 9 out of 10 do not even know where a recycling bin is? There should be one on every street corner. The best way to do something is to stop talking about it and actually do it. So far in Trinidad we have just been full of talks and we happily inhale toxic fumes from the Beetham dump. ABG: A few months ago, fishermen were pleading for seismic bombing to stop. However major global companies are saying it is important. What is your opinion? Marc: 2015 is the hottest year on record. The poles are melting. Scientists tell us to keep it in the ground. The major global companies are interested in making money from fossil fuels. Just like the whalers wanted to make money from whale oil. Look what happened to that in-
www.amgtt.com • OCTOBER, 2015 • ABSTRACT BUSINESS 15
TRUMP CARD dustry. The world is moving in different directions. Some parts of the world are embracing renewable energy, other parts of the world are committed to using more coal and other carbon based fuels. Saudi Arabia says that the age of fossil fuels is coming to and end. They don’t give a definitive date but they say it could be in 30 years, forty years or maybe less. If it is not a matter of economics it will be a matter of geopolitics. Has anybody given thought to the idea that a country may well go to war with another country in order to stop it from endangering planetary health through continued carbon emissions? It sounds abstract, maybe ludicrous, but there are billions of young people who believe that climate change is the # 1 threat to their existence. Fishermen have some valid grievances, but as damaging as they claim the seismic surveys are I wish they would self-police more and practice sustainable fishing. Unfortunately the state is more or less absent in the management and enforcement of fisheries so fishermen must do it themselves. Overfishing may well be more damaging than seismic surveys in the long run. ABG: The hunting ban is off. However there have been many pleas circulating on social media to stop hunting. Why is this the case? Marc: Was there ever a survey done to determine how many citizens were in favour of hunting? From what I can see the re-opening of the hunting season was deeply unpopular. The cuteness factor of some of the poached animals has a lot to do with the reactions. Undoubtedly urbanization has led to a reduced number of people who grow up in a hunting culture. Free education has probably also created more sensitive and thoughtful people with a better appreciation of the damage an unregulated hunt can do.
ABG: Is there an alternative solution such as regulations to be put in place etc.? Marc: We can start by enforcing the current Conservation of Wildlife Act. We act as if all laws are useless because they are outdated. The laws are not perfect, but if they were enforced and fines brought in to the 21st century we would be much better off. A scientifically managed hunt is the answer. With data and bag limits and tags. Scientists have told me that in their opinion a small island like Trinidad and an even smaller island like Tobago cannot sustain hunting. I say we leave the decision making up to the scientists. ABG: Since T&T has the second highest per capita CO2 footprint in the world, what can be done to help persuade the society at large to reduce this? Marc: Most of those emissions come from industry. The heavy energy users can become more efficient. We can close down the power plant in Port of Spain. It is among the least efficient in the world. We can insulate homes. We can do away with the gas subsidy and stop using cheap royalty natural gas that encourages wastage. The government has set a goal of 10% renewable energy by 2021. This can be done through wind energy and some solar installations. The wasteful fossil fuel subsidies can be used to pay for this. We can call on people’s willingness to conserve but what will happen when the entire subsidy economy of T&T is geared towards providing cheap carbon based energy? We will never see energy conservation as long as subsidies encourage waste. It’s all about the money. ABG: Do you think the development of Chaguaramas is a profitable move for the tourism industry? Marc: It is senseless. It reeks of
big government making decisions that having nothing to do with what the market wants – but then the island is filled with white elephants so what is one more? Chaguaramas has potential as a National Park. Where else can you stop by the side of the road and watch Red Howler monkeys in the trees. Go snorkeling in Macqueripe and you’ll see lots of turtles. Using these resources smartly can make money but if you destroy their habitat they will perish or flee. You cannot have eco-tourism if you destroy the eco. In Trinidad the only development that is understood is concrete and steel. Tobago is the tourism destination for T&T but tourism is so badly marketed that they cannot fill the planes to fill the hotel rooms – so why look at Chaguaramas? It will suffer the same fate. Chaguaramas can be a huge asset as a National Park, but once you introduce housing to Tucker Valley, pour concrete all over Point Gourde and build marinas, what will be left of what made it attractive in the first place? It’s not about tourism, it is about putting money in developer’s pockets. To make Chaguaramas accessible you need to build a causeway. That causeway was expected to cost 7 billion dollars a few years ago, according to a government report. The investments in Chaguaramas tourism are supposed to be 2 billion dollars. You now have to add 7 billion causeway cost to that. It is clear that you cannot make back money on 9 billion dollars infrastructure using a 2 billion dollar business plan. So either somebody is lying or somebody is not planning. ABG: In your opinion, what are some of the investments the government can make that will be beneficial to both the tourism industry and the environment at large? Marc: Government competes
directly with private enterprise for employees due to bloated make work schemes and ministries. We suffer from a general productivity problem. That affects tourism too. The biggest investment may be to no longer invest in the subsidy-transfer economy. It is bleeding us dry. Protect natural spaces. I see Maracas beach getting a big makeover. The swamp is being filled to put in an extra road to bypass traffic bottleneck at the car park but why not just enforce the no parking law on the existing road? What is the better solution? Spend millions on a road or write out a few tickets? Maracas beach is lit up brightly at night. It is odd, because nobody uses the beach at night. Turn off the lights and use turtle friendly lights and stop driving tractors over the beach and you might see leather back turtle numbers increase so that you can now have a turtle watching experience at Maracas. Do this and the beach becomes a night and day destination. A constant source of embarrassment is the litter that is everywhere. We live in a huge garbage dump and the sad thing is that we don’t even see the plastic bags and bottles polluting our drains and verges and public spaces anymore. Tourists do notice though and they never fail to tell me how shocked they are at the litter. They just don’t understand it. They are like:” What do you mean, you don’t recycle? If our game sanctuaries and forest reserves were run the way that the National Park system operates in the US, with non-intrusive but smart facilities and enforcement of laws, we would do both the environment and tourism a favour. ABG: How can persons get involved with the PBC? Marc: Send me an email at marc@papaboisconservation. org with “volunteer” in the subject line.
www.amgtt.com • OCTOBER, 2015 • ABSTRACT BUSINESS 17
ABSTRACT BUSINESS GUIDE
CAN T&T TRULY BECOME A TOURISM HUB?
Written by Daniela Nandlal
iving in a multicultural nation has many benefits. From the cosmopolitan streets of Port-of-Spain to the serene beaches of Tobago, there is something for everyone to experience. Therefore with so much to offer, it is only obvious that the development of the local tourism sector is critical in more ways than one. Notwithstanding the economic benefits that will emerge from tourism, there is also the entrepreneurial opportunities that will arise. According to Tourism minister Shamfa Cudjoe there are plans to do just that. Speaking at the Tourism Awards 2015, she said “my mandate as Minister of Tourism is to ensure that tourism becomes an engine for boosting growth in the national economy. I am committed to ensuring that the Ministry of Tourism develops clear and concise tourism policy objectives in collaboration with all of our tourism partners and that the tourism voice is heard clearly and strongly in the Cabinet,” she said. “I have mandated my ministry to come up with a tourism growth strategy in short measure, prioritizing the major projects that will be undertaken on a yearly basis. This will be
a comprehensive action plan that will focus on the incredible economic potential that exists outside of our rich oil and gas resource sector.” However is this revised strategy enough for Trinidad and Tobago to become a tourism hub? According to the Ministry of Tourism’s National Tourism Policy of Trinidad and Tobago, a number of factors currently affect the potential of the tourism industry to play a more meaningful role in the development of the economy of Trinidad and Tobago. These include inter alia: collaboration and communication among stakeholders; environmental degradation; tourism education, training and awareness; local community involvement; infrastructure; air and sea access; marketing and promotion; quality of tourist accommodation establishments; adequate funding; socio-cultural impacts and customer service. In addition to these factors, there is also an issue with customer service. According to a recent study conducted by the World Economic Forum on various travel destinations, T&T was ranked a lowly 16th out of 25 countries surveyed in the Americas. This country has an overall ranking of 79 out of 133 countries. The survey also
ACCORDING TO A RECENT STUDY CONDUCTED BY THE WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM ON VARIOUS TRAVEL DESTINATIONS, T&T WAS RANKED A LOWLY 16TH OUT OF 25 COUNTRIES SURVEYED IN THE AMERICAS 18 ABSTRACT BUSINESS • OCTOBER, 2015 • www.amgtt.com
revealed the top three destinations in the Americas to be the United States, Mexico and Barbados. Realistically this may not be surprising to many. As it is not uncommon for many tourists to experience a lack of customer service from the time they land in the airport to when they check in at the hotel. Thus, in order for Trinidad and Tobago to have a competitive advantage over the rest of the Caribbean, and effort should be made to raise the level of customer service so that it’s higher than the rest of the islands. Therefore though it is possible for Trinidad and Tobago
to become a tourism hub it requires more than just being a place where all the touristfriendly elements are present such as heritage sites, amusement parks, museums, public parks, eating joints, shopping options, hotels, and local transport. All of these constraints identified above must be dealt with first. It is also imperative for a sound infrastructure to be put in place, in terms of the range of existing hotels and hotel rooms, amenities and conference facilities on offer sufficient flights to and from Trinidad and Tobago, sufficient cruise ship arrivals and a reliable road transportation network.
T&T’S NEXT TECHNOLOGY TREND
hen it comes to technology Trinidad and Tobago tries its best to keep abreast of the many up and coming trends as fast as they appear and become intricately linked to our production. The internet is one area of technology that we have always kept a keen eye on. The internet has moved from the realm of the computer to all smart devices. Watches, phones, tablets and security systems all seem to be self-aware and self-discovering. They all offer user-oriented computing. This has allowed consumers and businesses to acquire access to virtual resources and products on the go. Through smart devices we are now able to manage customer relationships, track physical assets and create efficiency in business operations and supply chains. The advancement of mobile phones also saw the explosion of mobile apps which drastically changed our personal experiences (online dating, shopping or exercise) as well as that of the professional experience. According to statistics more than two thirds of the world’s population possesses mobile phones and within the next decade another two or three billion are also likely to gain access. It’s safe to say that technology is now embedded everywhere. As the technology grew we also advanced our storage capacity to suit the transition. In came our movement towards cloud storage. The usage of such technology should have reduced bandwidth costs. However, it afforded us the capability to access multiple applications simultaneously. The convergence of cloud and mobile com-
ACCORDING TO STATISTICS MORE THAN TWO THIRDS OF THE WORLD’S POPULATION POSSESSES MOBILE PHONES AND WITHIN THE NEXT DECADE ANOTHER TWO OR THREE BILLION ARE ALSO LIKELY TO GAIN ACCESS puting now allows centrally coordinated apps to be delivered to any device. Cloud technology has altered the manner in which companies are able to accomplish their end goals. For small companies it increased their IT capacity and allowed for back office service that would have been previously relegated to the larger companies. But where are we headed in the future as it relates to technology? It’s even more important to chart where our next step would be as falling oil prices will drastically af-
fect our economy. According to the United Nations while the energy sector had shown some resurgence with estimated growth of one per cent last year, prospects for 2015 are “somewhat muted” due to the decline in global oil prices. This means that the drop in the oil price could still have a negative impact on the government’s revenue and thus its ability to reduce the fiscal deficit. In order to sustain our energy consumption Trinidad would need to shift our interest towards solar technology. Wind and solar
energy enables wider usage and better energy storage. The cost of solar energy is relatively affordable in terms of durability and longevity. Within Trinidad and Tobago we already have access to wind energy and both solar photovoltaic and thermal technologies. Technologies such as solar water heaters and solar panels are household and business energy saving technologies that we should really consider. This is definitely an energy saving technology trend to watch. “Even though the country produces much more gas than oil on an energy equivalency basis, so that its fortunes are more closely tied to the price of natural gas, the drop in the oil price could still have a negative impact on the government’s revenue and thus its ability to reduce the fiscal deficit.”
www.amgtt.com • OCTOBER, 2015 • ABSTRACT BUSINESS 19
ABSTRACT BUSINESS GUIDE
Canon Introduces New imageRUNNER Solutions In Trinidad & Tobago
anon U.S.A. Latin America Group, a leader in digital imaging solutions, and Ansa McAl, business partner and distributor, introduced the imageRUNNER 1400 and imageRUNNER ADVANCE C3300 series to corporate clients and resellers of Trinidad & Tobago during an event that took place on September 15, 2015 at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad Hotel. During this event attendees had the opportunity to see and experience the new technology and innovation of these powerful devices. The imageRUNNER 1400 and imageRUNNER ADVANCE C3300 series are designed for busy workgroups that need powerful productivity in a compact size and incorporate a number of improvements that help contribute to reduce costs and overall profitability. With the imageRUNNER 1400 series (one copier -1430J- and three multifunction -1435-1435i-1435iF), users can copy, print, and scan documents in sizes up to 8-1/2" x 14". Small enough to fit on a desk-
top, the imageRUNNER 1400 series can be used by itself or as part of a larger Canon MFP fleet. The imageRUNNER 1400 series core marking engine is based on the historically highly reliable imageRUNNER 1025, with improvements to performance, durability, and system capabilities. The imageRUNNER 1400 series deliver a simplified yet robust feature set, offering a remarkable balance between high functionality and
THE IMAGERUNNER 1400 AND IMAGERUNNER ADVANCE C3300 SERIES ARE DESIGNED FOR BUSY WORKGROUPS THAT NEED POWERFUL PRODUCTIVITY IN A COMPACT SIZE AND INCORPORATE A NUMBER OF IMPROVEMENTS THAT HELP CONTRIBUTE TO REDUCE COSTS AND OVERALL PROFITABILITY 20 ABSTRACT BUSINESS • OCTOBER, 2015 • www.amgtt.com
low cost of ownership. The imageRUNNER 1400 series delivers superior output quality with a 1200 dpi x 600 dpi (enhanced) print resolution and guaranteed productivity through fast print speeds, with a first-copy-out time as fast as 6.9 seconds and output up to 37 ppm. Meanwhile, the imageRUNNER ADVANCE C3300 Series (imageRUNNER ADVANCE C3330i and C3325i) are compact, powerful and ideal options for small environments. It allows for easy handling of tasks ranging from the printing of envelopes to paper size 12 "x 18". They reach print and copy speeds up to 30ppm. The new internal finishing option offers stapling of up to 50 sheets and the Staple-Free Staple feature that binds up to 4 sheets of paper together without the use of metal staples. This series offers maximum productivity as a result of smart features. Paper documents can be scanned and converted into easily editable formats, including Microsoft® Word, PowerPoint® or Adobe® PDF. This set provides access to information directly from certain applications in the cloud and supports printing-from and scanning-to Apple® or Android® mobile devices. “We are pleased to introduce these new and powerful solutions to the Trinidad and Tobago Market. Both the imageRUNNER 1400 and imageRUNNER ADVANCE C3300 series have
been designed to raise the organization and productivity standards on small and medium enterprises” said Mick Takagi, Director of BISG Marketing, Canon U.S.A. - Latin America Group . “This event is an opportunity for corporate clients and resellers to get to know in situ the great advantages these devices offer.” Canon U.S.A., Inc., is a leading provider of consumer, business-to-business, and industrial digital imaging solutions to the United States and to Latin America and the Caribbean (excluding Mexico) markets. With approximately $31 billion in global revenue, its parent company, Canon Inc. (NYSE:CAJ), ranked third overall in U.S. patents granted in 2014 and is one of Fortune Magazine's World’s Most Admired Companies in 2014. In 2014, Canon U.S.A. received the PCMag.com Readers’ Choice Award for Service and Reliability in the digital camera and printer categories for the 11th consecutive year. Canon U.S.A. is committed to the highest level of customer satisfaction and loyalty, providing service and support for all of the products it distributes. Canon U.S.A. is dedicated to its Kyosei philosophy of social and environmental responsibility. In 2014, the Canon Americas Headquarters secured LEED® Gold certification, a recognition for the design, construction, operations and maintenance of high-performance green buildings.
DOUBLES SALES GONE SOUR Are Doubles Vendors Sabotaging Themselves By Raising The Price? What If People Boycott?
wo doubles, slight pepper hold the sweet sauce is just one way in which many Trinidadians enjoy their doubles. Over the years this particular street food has evolved from having pepper sauce as the only addition available. Now there are a variety of sauces to enjoy and in some cases various meats and cucumber can also be added. This street food was first introduced in 1937 and has become a critical component to many Trinidadians’ breakfast. Lately, it has even sneaked its way into dinnertime as many vendors can be found at nighttime. However all is not well within the doubles industry. On October 7th 2015, it was announced that doubles prices would be increased by $1.00, therefore making the once $4.00 price change to $5.00. The reason? According to one San Fernando doubles vendor, the increase in diesel and oil prices ultimately led to an increase in food and transportation costs. Other vendors claimed this was due to the fact that prices for their raw materials were fluctuating. The nation was outraged by this change in price and people took to social media to express their frustration. Many claimed they would boycott purchasing of doubles and called for others to do the same, while others stressed the fact that the vendors’ overheads are few as most do not pay rent or taxes and as such they do not need to increase their prices. Doubles vendor, Mitch Thomas also joined in on the
THE NATION WAS OUTRANGED BY THIS CHANGE IN PRICE AND TOOK TO SOCIAL MEDIA TO EXPRESS THEIR FRUSTRATION conversation and made statements such as “I can't tell anyone where to spend their money. Don't matter the price of doubles it is still the cheapest food now and forever.” He even responded to a comment about not paying taxes by saying “What a doubles man make in a day you make in a month so don't talk about poor. Allyuh vex we doh pay taxes but everything I buy I pay tax for.” However not all vendors were eager to raise their prices. Sauce doubles located in Curepe admitted that he would not be raising his prices. Others have also placed signs indicating that there is no change to their prices.
Despite some having retained the original selling price of $4.00, they are still experiencing a decline in customers. Speaking with a doubles vendor located in Woodbrook, he admitted that even though his price did not increase, his customer based is not the same as before. Vendors in St. James have also noticed a decline in customers. They are hoping that this does not remain the case for much longer as they would not only be out of a job but also suffer a great loss. There are many food options within Trinidad. Based on a recent interview conducted in the city of Port of Spain, many persons have started to ex-
plore other options for breakfast. While some are opting for a healthier option and have started buying fruits for breakfast from various stalls located in the city, others have started purchasing Sada roti and bake at nearby food places since they admitted there is no longer a huge price difference between two doubles and these items. One can only assume that doubles vendors did not imagine what the effect of a price increase of such a staple street food would be. Not only did it upset avid doubles supporters nationwide, it was also the motivating factor for many to source other food options. The question now is how will doubles vendors regain their customer base or will the boycotting continue? Stay tuned to a doubles line near you to find out.
www.amgtt.com • OCTOBER, 2015 • ABSTRACT BUSINESS 21
DEVELOPING THE ENTREPRENEUR
FOUR DETRIMENTAL OFFICE HABITS YOU SHOULDN’T IGNORE
ou have a job. Great! Thank the Lord! If you want to keep the job, just make sure that you do your part in addition to thanking the Lord. Doing your part entails making sure that you do not engage in these bad office habits. 1. Phones: It is a bad habit to always leave your office door open and use your speaker phone. Close your door and do not disturb your colleagues. As well, using a speaker phone at full volume to go through your voice mailbox is the definition of annoying. If you are in an open office, do not use a speaker phone; instead, book an office for your meetings. It’s also a bad habit to always leave your personal mobile phone to ring on loud volume in an open office. Checking your personal phone during a chat with anyone is another bad habit.
IF YOU ARE IN AN OPEN OFFICE, DO NOT USE A SPEAKER PHONE; INSTEAD, BOOK AN OFFICE FOR YOUR MEETINGS. IT’S ALSO BAD HABIT TO ALWAYS LEAVE YOUR PERSONAL MOBILE PHONE TO RING ON LOUD VOLUME IN AN OPEN OFFICE 2. Eating: It’s ok to bring your lunch in and eat in the office, but remember not to bring in any smelly food. You really don’t want to stink up the office especially if the windows aren’t opened. If you have to, then find a separate office or a free area to eat it. Don’t microwave smelly food in the lunch room either. In addition, if you can’t close your mouth when you chew, you are better off eating where the noise emanating from your mouth isn’t going to irritate anyone. Also, if you have to constantly belch loudly after drinking your can of Coke, find somewhere else to do this.
3. Music: If you are in an office where you are allowed to listen to music while you work, then using your Mp3 player or iPod with a pair of cheap, leaky ear bud plugs is not cool! Why? Those near you might not be fans of your old Spice Girls’ tracks. Not only that, your pirated bassless tin tunes might be disturbing your colleagues sitting near your desk. It is best to always turn the volume down or ask your colleagues if your ear bud plugs are leaking. 4. Hygiene: This is a major bad habit in the workplace. If you are not a fan of morning show-
ers, baths, shower gels or soap, when you notice that your colleagues are constantly stepping away or moving away from you, it might be time for you to hit the shower hard! People are super polite so they might not tell you outright that you smell. Perhaps you may want to consider visiting the shower daily. In addition, constantly picking your nose in front of everyone is off putting, don’t make it a habit. If you wear the best and most expensive suit, but have a terrible case of unkempt hair oozing dandruff flakes onto your shoulders or flying everywhere, you’ll give a bad impression. It not a great look either if your shirt is soaking wet in your armpit areas, trust me, people see these things. As crazy as it sounds, everything on the grooming list – smell, clean teeth, facial hair, fingernails, haircuts and oral hygiene do matter.
www.amgtt.com • OCTOBER, 2015 • ABSTRACT BUSINESS 23
ABSTRACT BUSINESS GUIDE
DEVELOPING THE ENTREPRENEUR
Marketing Your Home Business
s it just me or has the business world become a bit more competitive as compared to twenty years ago? Is it that the smallbusiness owners, the ones actually generating profits, are making the task seem simple by using innovative marketing strategies or is it that the newcomers whose businesses are not very profitable, have not learned the secret behind ensuring a successful business? The secret, as many successful business owners would tell you, is that of a solid marketing strategy. Not just solid but one that is affordable, easy to maintain and able to reach the masses; a wider audience to garner more market share. Understand and identify your target market before implementing any tangible marketing strategies. Am I really only advertising for newly-weds or engaged couples because of my photography service? Should I target the 1825 age bracket as they would, more than likely, be the ones with more purchasing power as compared to teenagers? Should I target the more sophisticated among us because of the cost and brand of my product? These questions need to be answered before a marketing strategy is devised so
that the final approach will be beneficial to the business. Understand that every customer is different and although the product may remain the same, each customer’s need for the product will differ based on their preferences. Technological advancements have aided businesses in marketing their products to a wider group of consumers while remaining cost-effective to the business. These include advertising online via several social networking sites, such as Facebook, especially if the business is small or new. Facebook has been used by many small-business owners as a way to market their products or services. One it’s free, two it’s free and three, yes, it’s free!! No middle-man or advertising cost. A fan page is created, photos of the desired products are advertised (shoes, clothes) or if it’s a service (photography, music production) it’s posted on the business’ profile page, or in Facebook jargon, their “wall”. To generate more attention, the option to tag friends in the photo is available so that their friends can view and, as soon as someone likes it, the questions come: cost, availability, size and in no time the first sale is done. Small business should capitalize on
WORD OF MOUTH IS A STRONG ADVERTISING TOOL. ALTHOUGH THE ECONOMY IS PERMEATED WITH COUNTLESS MARKETING STRATEGIES, THIS CAN BE VERY USEFUL ESPECIALLY TO SMALL BUSINESSES 24 ABSTRACT BUSINESS • OCTOBER, 2015 • www.amgtt.com
Facebook not only because it saves money, but also because it promotes awareness of products and services. Word of mouth is a strong advertising tool. Although the economy is permeated with countless marketing strategies, this can be very useful especially to small businesses. Ensure customer satisfaction: from the first customer to the twentieth ensure that the customer is happy with his or her purchase. In most cases, if this happens, you get positive feedback from your customers and they spread the word about your business thus, generating more profits. Give samples to family and friends so that they can use the products and be the first to critique it; the more your product is out there, the more free advertising there is available to get prospective clients. Don’t be afraid to go out and get customers. Remember, the more the public is aware of your business, the better chance you have of becoming successful. Generate call cards and distribute them throughout the city. Start small, maybe
at a local grocery or even post posters up in transit stations. Any business owner will tell you that you need to spend money to get money: don’t be afraid to spend money on adverts, whether print or radio, as these are the two most economical and they reach the masses. Understand your customers and their needs. Being a smallbusiness owner gives you the advantage of being a bit more intimate with your clients. Humans crave attention and bask in exclusivity; customers love the idea that they are part of a select group or the only person who owns something. Ensure that loyal customers are treated with care and that their needs are met. This promotes customer loyalty to the business and ensures profits via sales for the business. Marketing strategies, if used correctly and based on the company’s and customer’s selections, can be beneficial to businesses and customers. Small businesses need to use these carefully as they can assist with the success or failure of a business.
ABSTRACT BUSINESS GUIDE
GLOBAL FINANCE & WORLD REVIEWS
Zero-Emission Cabs, Sports Cars Part Of Chinese-British Deals LONDON (Reuters): Chinese investment into low carbon London black cabs and a deal involving luxury sports carmaker Aston Martin are part of a series of business announcements that were made during the state visit by China's president to London. The deals came on the second full day of Xi Jinping's stay as Britain seeks to clinch contracts worth $46 billion. UK Trade and Investment, a body designed to encourage inward foreign investment into
Britain, said a number of deals involving low carbon technology would be done. Aston Martin, famous for making the DB5 sports car driven by fictional secret agent James Bond, will sign a deal worth 50 million pounds with China Equity - which makes venture capital and private equity investments - to develop its electric Rapide sports car. The carmaker, which currently builds conventional sports cars, is planning to expand its model line-up and use
new technologies as part of a strategy to boost volumes and return to profitability. Chinese carmaker Geely, which owns the London Taxi
Company, will also invest a further 50 million pounds to enhance its research capabilities and launch a new fleet of zeroemission-capable black cabs.
Taiwan's HTC Launches New Phone to Challenge Apple TAIPEI: Taiwan's smartphone maker HTC Corp unveiled a new flagship model today -taking on Apple's latest iPhones -- but analysts say it's unlikely to boost the struggling company's market share. The HTC One A9 has a 13-megapixel camera, and is the first non-Nexus phone to use Google's newest operating system. The homegrown Taiwanese brand, once a star of the smartphone sector, is suffering losses as it grapples with intense competition from Samsung, Apple and rising Chinese brands. The company is taking action to turn its business around, which involves job cuts and streamlining its product offerings to focus on high-end phones. The A9 -- which will go on sale next month -- will lift revenue in the fourth quarter as vendors start stocking the product, but consumers will
not necessarily follow, said analyst Calvin Huang of Sinopac Financial Holdings Co. "It may attract those who can't afford the iPhone but
26 ABSTRACT BUSINESS â€˘ OCTOBER, 2015 â€˘ www.amgtt.com
there are a lot of better phones as well on the market at cheaper prices," he told AFP. "The smartphone market is getting increasingly crowded. I don't
see any hope for a turnaround." Observers have taken to social media to note how similar A9's appearance is to Apple's iPhone 6s, some calling it a "clone." "(We're) unveiling a phone that stands apart in a market increasingly dominated by a company which controls every aspect of your phone," HTC's CEO Cher Wang said in a statement. HTC is directly challenging Apple's dominance, marketing the A9 as a bridge between the iPhone and other Android devices that are not user-friendly. HTC shares dropped 6.41 per cent to close at Taiwan Dollars 75.90 in Taipei today. "The product and price is pretty good, but the market is crowded with tons of product," said Richard Ko, an analyst for KGI Securities. "Are the phone's differences going to get people to choose it? That's uncertain."
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ABSTRACT BUSINESS GUIDE
October Stock Summary Courtesy The Trinidad and Tobago Stock Exchange
Written Report for Friday, 23 October, 2015
verall Market activity resulted from trading in 10 securities of which 2 advanced, 2 declined and 6 traded firm. Trading activity on the First Tier Market registered a volume of 295,150 shares crossing the floor of the Exchange valued at $7,374,269.57. TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO NGL LIMITED was the volume leader with 232,104 shares changing hands for a value of $5,570,125.77, followed by ANGOSTURA HOLDINGS LIMITED with a volume
of 19,921 shares being traded for $278,894.00. GUARDIAN HOLDINGS LIMITED contributed 19,076 shares with a value of $248,957.05, while SCOTIABANK TRINIDAD & TOBAGO LIMITED added 16,415 shares valued at $1,025,937.50. CLICO INVESTMENT FUND enjoyed the day's largest gain, increasing $0.01 to end the day at $22.51. Conversely, TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO NGL LIMITED suffered the day's greatest loss, falling $0.65 to close at $24.00. CLICO INVESTMENT
FUND was the only active security on the Mutual Fund Market, posting a volume of 2,702 shares valued at $60,822.02. CLICO INVESTMENT FUND
Stocks Advancing: Security
Closing Quote ($)
Closing Quote ($)
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO NGL LIMITED
CLICO INVESTMENT FUND THE WEST INDIAN TOBACCO COMPANY LIMITED Stocks Declining:
GUARDIAN HOLDINGS LIMITED Stocks Trading firm: Security
Closing Quote ($)
ANGOSTURA HOLDINGS LIMITED
SCOTIABANK TRINIDAD & TOBAGO LIMITED
FIRST CITIZENS BANK LIMITED
FIRSTCARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL BANK LIMITED
FLAVORITE FOODS LIMITED
ONE CARIBBEAN MEDIA LIMITED
28 ABSTRACT BUSINESS • OCTOBER, 2015 • www.amgtt.com
advanced by $0.01 to end at $22.51. BOURSE BRAZIL LATIN FUND remained at $9.50. FORTRESS CARIBBEAN PROPERTY FUND LIMITED SCC - DEVELOPMENT FUND remained at $0.67. FORTRESS CARIBBEAN PROPERTY FUND LIMITED SCC - VALUE FUND remained at $1.70. PRAETORIAN PROPERTY MUTUAL FUND remained at $3.06. The Second Tier Market did not witness any activity. MORA VEN HOLDINGS LIMITED remained at $14.98.
In Friday's trading session the following reflect the movement of the TTSE Indices: * The Composite Index declined by 0.93 points (0.08%) to close at 1,151.16. * The All T&T Index declined by 1.85 points (0.09%) to close at 1,955.66. * The Cross Listed Index remained at 45.48. * The Composite Index comprises all Ordinary companies. * The All TTSE Index comprises Trinidadian companies only. * The Cross Listed Index comprises companies originating outside of Trinidad & Tobago.
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Published on Nov 5, 2015
Published on Nov 5, 2015
In this issue: Are cultural problems curbing productivity? Conservationist talks ecology vs economy Tips to develop your SME