THE EDITOR: My company is a local manufacturing one that officially started many years ago. We take pride in what we do. We have honoured our commitment to excellent service and quality products, being a supplier to all government bodies and major organisations throughout TT.
We do not assemble imported products and resell, despite the fact that many local companies engage in that type of business, while still unethically citing themselves as manufacturers.
By buying locally produced materials and manufacturing products right here in our country, we are proud to say that we go above and beyond to stimulate our country’s economy through saving foreign exchange, employing and creating employment for many skilled and semi-skilled countrymen and also generously giving back to our community for humanitarian causes.
In stark contrast to this positive attitude towards our service, we have been met with dwindling contracts from our Government and what work we do get is mired in severe payment issues, some of which have been highlighted in previous correspondence.
Prior to 2017, all contracts that we’ve been awarded were legitimately done through the Central Tenders Board (CTB). Since then, however, certain schedules of goods and services have been removed from the CTB’s jurisdiction by the Government. This means we are no longer bound by our registration with the CTB for these services to the Government.
What it also means is that the market for these schedules of goods and services has been opened to self-serving entities that are solely focused on importing the cheapest products which compromise on quality and provide the State with substandard goods and services that would be due for replacing in as short a timeframe as possible.
This not only puts a strain on the already limited access to foreign exchange and makes the State spend much more money for basic commodities, but it also creates a situation where companies like mine’s are left jobless and our employees eventually face retrenchment and life-changing financial challenges.
I ask, is it fair that companies and hard working people who have been serving the country for decades be treated and sidelined this way?
I seek direct intervention by the Government to find sustainable and fair solutions for the benefit of the country and the people who tirelessly serve it. We simply cannot proceed in business this way. The unequivocal truth is that many other local manufacturing entities and businesses are in jeopardy.
I recall Trade and Industry Minister Gopee-Scoon’s plea to the public and business community to “buy local.” There was a passion and deep-rooted sentiment in such an emotional display, and so I ask her to take this further – from words to action.
I look forward to seeing the Government demonstrate that while times are indeed quite trying that it is putting the priorities in the right places and putting the country first.