Needed: Speed & Urgency
March 7th, 2023
Access and deployment of technology is the way to level the playing field, gain customers and vendors globally and leapfrog other businesses in the economic landscape.
Angela Lee Loy
Aegis Business Solutions, Eve Anderson Recruitment,
and Caribbean Resourcing Solutions
The ease of doing business in Trinidad and Tobago continues to be a work in progress,” notes Angela Lee Loy, Chairman, Aegis Business Solutions, Eve Anderson Recruitment, and Caribbean Resourcing Solutions.
“While some industries and government divisions have gone online in some processing areas, the digital transformation for the whole user experience from start to finish is still needed,” Lee Loy points out. An astute businesswoman with decades of experience, Lee Loy hats also contributed her time and talent to several associations and NGOs. She recognises more than most that it is now necessary to work with ‘speed and urgency to connect the dots and improve our process flow in both private and public sector services.’
Technology and legislation crucial to success
“There is a real opportunity for Government, private sector and citizens to embrace technology and tap into what already exists truly. The cost is not prohibitive,’” Lee Loy advises. “Platforms already exist for what you want to do. With that, you no longer need huge capital, and you can test many services via subscription payment options,” she adds. “Access and deployment of technology is the way to level the playing field, gain customers and vendors globally and leapfrog other businesses in the economic landscape,” Lee Loy emphasises.
Still, the legislative framework will play a key role too.
“The procurement legislation is important for transparency and accountability. This is key to avoiding corruption in the system which is essential for good governance and attracting investors. When the process is transparent from top to bottom, it allows every business to get a fair chance in the vendor selection process, particularly in a society of so many SMEs. A proper tendering process is important,” Lee Loy believes.
T&T’s economy has a high level of SME engagement – with a clear majority of registered businesses in the country operating with less than four persons. Driving greater engagement between these types of companies and the Government can positively impact the communities affected by the pandemic by empowering smaller businesses. “Public and private sector participation is a must. We must continue to build trust and encourage Public-Private partnerships (PPP),” Lee Loy elaborates.
Lee Loy recognises that there are many issues, some exacerbated by recent events. Chief among them is that food imports are rising, but so are energy prices. “We are already experiencing logistical challenges due to the Ukrainian-Russian war, so supplies for products are already being substituted. Every element of the supply chain will be recosted and passed on to the consumer, which is already happening worldwide. The cost of goods will impact us, and consumers will be more discerning regarding their spending. The price at the gas pump will have a negative impact on citizens. We will continue to feel the shock on our shores,” she explains.
“As a result of all of this, we have to be looking at food security. Agriculture should play an essential role in the Government’s projected outlook. We have land but we need to mechanise agriculture,” Lee Loy adds. She acknowledges that many businesses also need to place greater emphasis on customer service as well – which would be a key determinant in seeing Trinidad and Tobago as a worthwhile tourism destination.
Still, Lee Loy is confident and hopeful that positive outcomes are coming.
“The new industrial park in Point Lisas is a step in the right direction. If we look at the current Point Lisas Industrial Estate, we are the number one exporter of ammonium and methanol from a single site. We are one of the largest gas processing facilities in the Americas. We have such good oil and gas infrastructure here. We have so much liquidity in this country that we should be our own investors because we have done it before.”
She also notes that we are beginning to see significant investment in the hotel industry as travel picks up.
“The cottage industries have done really well as people continue to create and innovate. Citizens are appreciating more and showcasing our local artisans, local food and the new products that are emerging in the local markets such as cassava flour, local chocolates and a range of sauces. These are just a few examples but there are so many things to see, taste and do now in Trinidad and Tobago. I expect more of our local suppliers to be available online and delivery options to improve,” she observes.
Drawing on her wealth of knowledge and experience, Lee Loy reminds us that we have been here before. “In the 80s and 90s, when Trinidad and Tobago was in a recession, our manufacturing sector rose to the occasion and innovated. We do have resilience but sometimes we have to be pushed to get there. We have qualified people across many industries in Trinidad and Tobago and we need to value and maximise our own people in these areas. We have done it before,” she reiterates.
“Looking ahead, the Government must also focus on the education sector. Our education system has to move forward with technology and ensure we close the digital divide throughout Trinidad and Tobago. We need to ensure every citizen has broadband and it is affordable for everyone. We need to ensure children receive training to prepare them for jobs today and for the future too.”
Much work is needed, but the cornerstone, Lee Loy reminds us, has to be speed and urgency.
by Kieran Khan