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Friday 15 December 2017
Letters to the Editor

Govt repeating Caroni error with Customs?

THE EDITOR: Just as it is understood that all living things will die some day, by relating biology to organisations one can prepare for the eventual end of an organisation. That preparation, however, can include revolutionising systems and processes to breathe new life into the organisation.

Additionally, just as biology operates on the theory of evolution, so too can management and human resources work with the evolving environment and make the changes necessary to help the organisation evolve to a higher state of relevance.

State-owned Caroni (1975) Ltd was evolving when the government chose to close it down in 2003. Its main product, sugar, was found to contribute to adverse health conditions and as the demand declined, so too did the global price and revenue.

Using what we now know as bio-economics (Mayumi, 2001 cited by Forbes, 2008), several divisions of the organisation were dedicated to production of other types of agricultural produce to avoid a rising food import bill.

A breeding stock of buffalypsoes which are hybrid animals with superior meat and milk production capacity was developed by the organisation. Upon closure, the animals were sold off to Costa Rica (Bagoo, 2013).

A rum division was developed to make use of the sugar because while sugar prices were low, it was the raw material for rum, which commands a consistently high price. The Caroni Rum Division was sold off to Angostura Holdings.

Large acreages which were dedicated to commercial production of citrus production now lie abandoned but we import orange juice from Belize and Florida. Rice and prawn production (FAO, 1992) was not yet in sufficient quantities to be commercialised. Today the infrastructure lies in waste, but we import rice and shrimp in large quantities.

Sugar is produced by a handful of small cane farmers in the Barrackpore area of south Trinidad but additives to prevent degradation of their product are not available on the local market. We import large quantities of sugar from neighbouring Guyana.

Each of the different divisions either provided inputs for another or made use of the waste matter from each other and from cane processing. The then government in 2003 stopped the organisation’s plans to adapt to the evolving environment by divesting from sugar production into the other areas which could have allowed Caroni to move to another life stage. The only vestige that remained was Caroni Green but that too was recently shut down.

Is the Government repeating the same mistake with the closure of Caroni Green TDC, and soon the BIR and Customs? Renaming an entity cannot make it more viable so what is the real long-term plan?

SHALIMA MOHAMMED via e-mail

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