IN spite of the best efforts of the Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith and the police service, crime and security continue to plague the community of Penal/Debe.
Businessman Shiva Roopnarie observed crime was driving away business owners and the jobs they would have created.
He said contractors were not being paid for work done, adding to the crippling ripple effect on businesses in the community.
A former president of the Penal/Debe Chamber, Roopnarine said increased taxation also led to cash-flow problems and an inability to expand and create more jobs.
He said, in this year's budget, Government “should not kill the goose that lays the golden egg (with increased taxation).
“They need to balance the taxation with the economic crisis citizens are facing.”
Roopnarine said the state of crime was also causing another brain drain as educated people who could not find jobs here were seeking careers abroad.
“We cannot continue to educate our children in a society that does not have a space for them to exist.”
He lamented the failure of Government to open the UWI south campus and failure to complete the Shiva Boys College, Parvati Girls College, Ramai Trace Hindu School, St Dominic’s RC School, the Penal Fire Station or continue the highway extension to Point Fortin.
Roopnarine addressed a pre-budget consultation hosted by Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal at his constituency office on Tuesday night.
“When business owners feel threatened, they will not invest. They will not expand their businesses. They pack up and leave. This affects us all,” he told the audience which included, Senator Taharqa Obika and chairman of the Penal/Debe Regional Corporation Dr Allen Sammy.
“Citizens should feel safe to go out, conduct normal business and children should feel safe attending school.
“This fear that is permeating our land needs to cease and can only happen with a meaningful reduction in crime, a concerted effort in prosecuting criminals and a reduction in legal red tape bugging the judicial system.”
In light of declining gas and oil revenues, Roopnarine said there were brilliant nationals who could assist TT in becoming truly diversified within the next five years.
“However, we seem to be doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. We are not creating the spaces for creative development, innovation and research.”
“The government needs to urgently prioritise expenditure in the interest of the country.”
With dwindling gas and oil revenues, he said a huge investment is needed in a direction that the next generation can lead.
“This world is not like it was ten years ago and will change exponentially within the next five years. We are still talking oil and gas when the world is moving to green, clean, solar, wind and hydroelectric power.”
Roopnarine said he would like to see in the October 7 budget, conservative estimates of oil and gas along with downstream investments that could compliment the industrial estate.
“Too much of our raw materials are leaving our shores to be re-imported as semi-finished and finished products. If we truly believe that oil and gas is not renewable and would, one day, be depleted, we should try and get the most returns for this commodity. We need to add value along the chain, thereby creating jobs.”
Roopnarine also advocated for agriculture to be given greater priority as the food import bill continues to rise in the face of scarce foreign exchange. He said opportunities presented by a migrant labour force should be capitalised.