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Thursday 19 October 2017
Commentary

In the spirit of CARICOM

In the life of a nation, 41 years as a Republic is still relatively young. The commemoration of Republic Day in Trinidad and Tobago has always been somewhat low-key, when compared to our Independence pomp and pageantry. This year, for the first time, the National Awards was hosted on Republic Day – September 24. Hopefully this will serve to foster a greater appreciation of the significance of this landmark holiday. On that note, the TT Chamber extends congratulations to all awardees, for their outstanding service towards nation-building.

Trinidad and Tobago may be described as a maturing society, and our journey from Independence through Republicanism, has been marked with many positives. Despite the disturbing crime situation, TT remains a nation that is peaceful, for the most part, with a stable, democratic political system and a population that is generally respectful of differences.

We continue to make our contribution, as part of Caricom – one of the longest-surviving integration movements for developing countries. This is demonstrated through our functional co-operation in education, health, culture and security, along with a commitment to the Single Market and Economy.

Within recent times the concept of co-operation has become a focal point when we consider the devastating impact of natural disasters upon the region. Hurricanes Irma and Maria have caused massive damage to life, landscape and property in Antigua, Barbuda, Dominica and several other islands within the region. The long-term impact is mind-boggling and the re-building process will take several years, while running into billions of dollars. With little to no revenue-generating activity, affected countries are likely end up in dire economic straits. No doubt, they will be forced to re-negotiate international loan arrangements, and the like. That is without even starting the discussion about the psychological impact upon the people.

As part of Joint Chambers, the TT Chamber is engaging in the relief and rebuild efforts of these affected Caricom islands.

Joining the cause are NGOs such as: Living Water Community, the Love All Serve All initiative and the Halo Foundation of Antigua and Barbuda. Our combined efforts in collaboration with One Caribbean Media (OCM) and last Sunday’s One Island concert, have produced this aid initiative.

We are asking every member of the public to assist in sending relief items to the islands.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has also indicated a waiver of immigration restrictions to allow for Dominicans to seek refuge in our country for a period of six months.

Judging from the premature and divisive comments from a few citizens upon learning of the PM’s offer, it is evident that absolutely no thought was given to what would happen if Trinidad and Tobago were to suffer a similar fate as our neighbours.

While the lifting of restrictions to entry will require close monitoring, the TT Chamber is of the view that the Government’s gesture ought not to be politicised at the expense of rendering service, shelter and sustenance to our Caricom neighbours.

If you are serious about assisting our affected neighbours, we encourage you to link with legitimate organisations only, to donate cash and in-kind items. Please check your daily newspapers and news outlets for more details or call the TT Chamber. Let’s do our part right now to assist.

The TT Chamber writes a weekly column for the Business Day paper.

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