COMPLETION of the Debe to Charlo Village leg of the highway from San Fernando to Point Fortin, schools and alleviating flooding are on the top of the agenda for the Penal/Debe Chamber in its 2020/2021 budget wish list.
Chamber president Rampersad Sieuraj has already written to Patrick E Grell, the advisor to Finance Minister Colm Imbert with suggestions for consideration in the October 5 budget.
“Penal/Debe Chamber of Commerce acknowledges TT’s present economic climate and would be appreciative of any of our recommendations finding merit,” Sieuraj wrote.
“Cognisant of the fact that expenditure needs to be carefully managed,” Sieuraj said, “These requests are made on the premise of national development, yes, beneficial to Penal/Debe, but more importantly from a TT national perspective.”
For instance, he said the completion of the highway would have tremendous benefits for the development of the agricultural sector, tourism, education, plus reduction in loss of productive manpower hours.
The chamber has been an advocate for eco tourism as a means of diversification in the area with the development of the Tulsa Trace Picnic Site, the Banwari Trace Archaeological site, touted as the oldest archaeological site in the Caribbean and mud volcanoes.
“Tourism can be marketed via tours, tour guides straight from the Hilton and Hyatt Hotels down the highway, where tourists can enjoy breakfast at Debe doubles before visiting all or any of the sites.” He said there is potential for earning foreign exchange if this venture is pursued.
Further to diversifying the economy, Sieuraj said he would like to see the creation and or development of a light industrial estate on Caroni lands in Debe similar to the Moruga Agro Processing and Light Industrial Park and regularisation of land tenure at Bunsee Trace, Penal Rock Road.
In terms of education, Sieuraj said he is hoping the Finance Minister would cater for the completion of the Ramai Trace Hindu School, Parvati Girls High School, Shiva Boys High School and St. Dominic's RC School which are in various stages of completion.
Infrastructural upgrade of the surroundings around the University of the West Indies Debe campus, creating a business /university hub given its proximity to San Fernando, Princes Town and environs is also on the chamber’s agenda.
Development of the fishing port at Quarry Road, Morne Diablo to encourage food self sufficiency as well as the upgrade and maintenance of multiple water wells in the Penal/Debe area as a solution to the inconsistent supply of pipe borne water, have been put forward for consideration.
The area has been plagued by flooding over the years and the chamber said consideration must be given to alleviating this problem.
In terms of encouraging a greater economic environment and activities, the chamber said specific to the SME’s, addressing the ease of doing business is of paramount importance.
It has expressed concerns about high taxation, the bureaucratic process to register companies, registration at the Board of Inland Revenue and National Insurance Boards. It has called for legislation to regulate banks inflexibility and requirments for SME’s and sole proprietorship.