body for services sector
national umbrella body that proposes to bring together all
services sector providersorganisations, associations
and professionalswill be officially launched by June.
Once fully operational, the T&T Coalition of Service Industries
(TTCSI) would be an independent entity, and serve as the private
sector institution responsible for highlighting and dealing
with services sector interests, particularly sector development.
Services trade interests would be better co-ordinatedwithin
a national contextfor the respective bilateral, regional
and multilateral negotiations.
Services trade has become increasingly important over the
past few years, at the national, regional and international
levels, hence the necessity to create the national coalition.
Services: new engine of economic growth
Along with manufacturing, the services industry is being seen
as the new engine of economic growth and sustainable development,
given the rapid increase in the global trade in services.
The services sector is the largest contributor to economic
activity in T&T, accounting for 65 per cent of GDP. It
is the largest employer in the economy, with over 60 per cent
of the labour force in the distribution, transport, storage
and communications sub-sectors.
It provides core support for the development of other sectors
of the economy, and includes the following areas of economic
activity: construction; transport and communication; infrastructural
activity such as water and electricity supply; distribution
of goods; financial and insurance services; real estate; tourism
and travel related services; government, business and professional
Moving towards a regional CSI
As part of the regional development plan for the services
sector, the Caricom secretariat, in collaboration with the
governments of Caricom member states, has been working on
strengthening the services component of the private sector.
In 2001, Caricoms Council for Trade and Economic Development
(Coted) agreed that each member state should form its own
national coalition of service industries, and these would
be linked and combined into a Regional Coalition of Service
Ideally, the proposed RCSI would review and make recommendations
on issues pertaining to the development, facilitation and
promotion of services trade, within the context of global
service developments. It would also link all the regional
professional associations and the national coalitions together
to promote the common interests of service suppliers.
The process has been moving at a somewhat slower pace than
originally intended, however. T&Ts Ministry of Trade
and Industry took the initiative to help establish this countrys
coalition, a move endorsed by Coted in March 2004, which encouraged
member states to provide the necessary support for establishing
the national coalitions.
Since then, the Caricom Secretariat, the Caribbean Association
of Industry and Commerce (CAIC) and Caribbean Export have
stepped up efforts to make the RCSI a reality.
To date, only Barbados and St Lucia have launched their national
coalitionsthe Barbados Coalition of Service Industries
in 2002, and the St Lucia Coalition of Service Industries
in March. Other Caricom countries are at varying stages of
launching their coalitions, with T&T poised to launch
What will the TTCSI do, exactly?
Among other things, the umbrella TTCSI would disseminate vital
information to prepare service stakeholders for the challenges
and opportunities of the service regimes of the Caricom Single
Market and Economy (CSME), the Free Trade Area of the Americas
(FTAA) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
It would also encourage an increase of service exports within
the CSME itself, between CSME and FTAA member countries, and
between CSME and WTO member countries. It would also partner
with the public sector in the overall development of the regions
Step by step
Establishing the TTCSI is a three-stage process: the initial
assessment phase, a logistics phase, and, finally, the actual
launch. During the assessment phase, stakeholders who were
surveyed indicated their willingness to form the national
Following on this encouraging result, the Ministry of Trade
and Industry hosted a consultation with services sector providers
in September. One of the key outcomes was an agreement to
establish a task force, which would be responsible for undertaking
activities leading to the creation of the national coalition.
In early March, the task force held a strategic planning retreat
to review the constitution of the TTCSI, as well as to develop
a strategic business plan for its sustainability. A second
consultative forum with stakeholders is scheduled for May
when the task force will present its recommendations for the
establishment of the TTCSI.
The benefits (whether youre big or small)
The experience of other countries has shown that service providers
do benefit significantly from being members of such umbrella
n Strength in numbers when lobbying governmental authorities
on the sectors developmental issues.
n In trade negotiations, governments are better able to address
market access problems faced by services.
n Synergies are more readily developed and attained within
the sector itself, and more efficient information flows to
and from government, and between members.
For T&T service providers, the TTCSI is the ideal mechanism
to bring to Governments attention critical services
trade issues, and to ensure that these are addressed in a
timely manner. This is especially important in the context
of negotiating trade agreements, such as the WTO, FTAA, the
Economic Partnership Agreement with the EU; the CSME, etc.
On the one hand, it is an entity like the TTCSI which will
ensure that a government has a strong negotiating position
in services industry issues, at the various international
trade negotiations fora.
On the other hand, coalition members would benefit from having
access to information on the negotiated trading agreements
and arrangements, and would be alerted to prospective opportunities
and possible threats to their growth and development.
Many of the service providers in this country are small in
size and need a strong lobby on their behalf. Only through
a national coalition such as the TTCSI would their special
interests be adequately represented, in the context of trade
negotiations and services liberalisation. An umbrella body
such as the TTCSI provides the small service providers with
real hope for some measure of special and differential treatment
at the trade negotiations.
The bottom line: the TTCSI will ensure that the interests
of its membersservice providers large and small in the
services sectorare considered and met by Government
when policies are being formulated to facilitate the sustainable
development of the sector.
the death choice
the juncture of human dignity and medical progress protrudes
euthanasia, the kind twin of Yamraja (the Grim Reaper).
Birth, life and death are an inseparable threesome. Life is
bounded by birth and death in any one incarnation.
How far are we prepared to go to extend life?
How can we tell when we have crossed the limits of life extension
and have entered into the realm of delaying death?
Has the so-called culture of life morphed into a matrix of
One of the major social issues that face us today, as highlighted
by the recent case in Florida, is that of euthanasia, defined
as the act of inducing a quiet and easy death.
It will continue to arise from situations of coma that may
arise from accidents, vehicular ones in the main, and from
Also, since increasingly large numbers of people are living
longer than was the case in the past and, as happened in another
country a few years ago, there will be those who will want
to be relieved of the burden of terminal illness and unbearable
No matter how wistfully we may long for the fountain of youth,
the fact is that Laws of Thermodynamics are irrefutable. Sooner
or later, decay sets in, be it in the sixties, seventies,
eighties or beyond. One inevitable consequence of this is
disease and pain.
There will be some, one assumes the majority, who will be
of the conviction that the pain and other age-related handicaps
are but a small price to pay for the joys of seeing the great
grandchildren grow up, to finally accomplish some long-held
ambition or dream.
There may be others, though, who may have no such dreams or
family ties and to whom the pain may be too much to endure.
They may feel that having lived to a ripe old age and experienced
life, they are ready to move to the next stage. And they are
looking for a timely, quiet and easy passage. Is it wrong
to grant that to them?
The argument is often advanced that by allowing euthanasia,
we would be opening the floodgates. Unscrupulous individuals
will set about killing the old or pulling the plug on coma
patients in a willy-nilly fashion. A culture of death would
replace the culture of life.
That indeed is a most serious concern. No one wants that or
would advocate such. Life must be preserved and protected
at all times. Having said that, we must also be aware of other
factors involved also.
In seeking the answers, honesty is essential. The sad fact
is that there are many people in this world, including people
here, who die or are dying because they cannot afford the
cost of medical treatment or the treatment is not available.
In many such situations they may be young and still productive
and, more importantly, want to live. The ethics of life and
death must include such situations.
It leads to the following question: who has the primary responsibility
for ones health? The individual or the State? The answer
must be both. It is a partnership. This must be reflected
in health policies.
The reality is therefore that the decisions we take at the
personal and societal levels impact on our health and lives.
How much we invest in a health plan, the Governments
healthcare policies and the countries we live in are major
contributors to our health.
Since the individual plays an active part in the managing
of his/her healthcare, shouldnt the person also have
some say, under a well-defined and monitored system of rules
and regulations, to determine his/her future?
Life is about living. Being alive is an active and conscious
condition. Activity here includes both physical and mental
It is worth pointing out that a physically paralysed person
may be more mentally active and thus more alive than a person
with full command of his/her physical faculties. The quality
of ones life is a measure of ones degree of aliveness.
In situations of a person being in a prolonged coma or being
in a vegetative state, the practical and ethical questions
as to the quality of live must be considered.
There are no easy answers. But what is clear is that there
cannot be one answer for all situations. Herein lies the challenge.
There must be a careful weighting of all the factors involved.
Respect for the sanctity of life, acknowledgement of the importance
of the quality of life, consideration for the concerns of
the family and, above all, deference to the wishes of the
Issues involving life and death, like euthanasia and abortion,
quickly become emotionally driven ideological wars, thereby
delaying implementation of laws that are required to serve
a real need. The battle becomes a self-sustaining goal unto
The diversity of thought, systems of belief and plurality
of the world should not be allowed to be dichotomised as this
leads to nothing but stagnation of the path of human development.
Simplistic notions of absolute right and wrong have led to
enough pain and suffering in this world already. For any man
or group to presume to know or represent the Infinite Being
and hence have all the right answers is nothing but an attempt
at self-delusion of the infinite variety.
Prakash Persad is Chairman
of Swaha Inc