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Competitiveness Begins At Home, says Group COO

By Raphael John Lall, courtesy Trinidad Guardian

Chief Operating Officer of the ANSA Mc AL Group of Companies Gerry Brooks said that competitiveness in the global economy must begin in T&T.

Brooks made the comment while addressing participants at the first instalment of the 2008 Distinguished Lecture Series at the ANSA Mc AL group head office, Tatil Building, Maraval Road, St Clair, on Wednesday.

Among those attending the event were Norman Sabga, chairman of the ANSA Mc AL Group of Companies; Anthony Sabga, chairman emeritus of the ANSA Mc AL Group; David Sabga, deputy chairman of the group and Dr Keith Rowley Minister of Trade and Industry, who delivered the feature address.

Mr Rowley, as the group immerses itself in globally competitive issues, many would argue that competitiveness begins at home,” Brooks said.

Brooks said that the ANSA Mc AL Group is concerned with the shortage of skilled and unskilled labour in T&T.

“We support the call for both long term and short term solutions with far less bureaucratic procedures to ensure that we contain labour inflation and continue the impetus to be globally competitive,” he said.

Brooks said the ANSA Mc AL Group is concerned about T&T’s global competitiveness ranking.

“We note with some concern that our global competitiveness ranking of 84 now lags behind Jamaica and Barbados now 78 and 50 respectively…we are concerned about the implication of this competitiveness ranking in the face of anticipated increases in the cost of utilities, that is, water, electricity and telecommunications,” he said.

Brooks said this has had a direct impact on the cost of raw materials, spares and capital goods which are inputs into manufacturing.

He said the ANSA Mc AL Group is satisfied with the recently concluded Economic Partnership Agreement between Cariforum countries (Caricom and the Dominican Republic) and the European Union. During the negotiation, the group submitted recommendations to assist in its implementation.

“We applaud the establishment of an Implementation Task Force involving the private sector as a means of implementing the agreement. May we suggest a Caricom-wide implementation team, to ensure conformity and co-ordination within the context of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME),” he said.

Brooks said T&T must eradicate the problem of crime very quickly if this country is to remain competitive.

“Daily incidents in Jamaica, T&T, St Lucia and the recent massacres in Guyana are growing testimony of this phenomenon of crime…crime leads to intellectual and capital flight. It causes foreign direct investment to migrate to safer jurisdictions as people and our best and brightest seek safer havens,” he said.

Brooks said the ANSA Mc AL Group is made up of 60 companies with combined assets of over US$1 billion and pays over TT$750 million in taxes annually.

He said the group has enjoyed an excellent relationship with the Trade and Industry Ministry and hopes to continue the relationship to realise Vision 2020.

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