Monday 14th August, 2006

 
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Agriculture, agribusiness high on ministry’s agenda

This is in response to the August 6 Guardian editorial, “Serious agriculture policy needed.”

First of all, the writer referred to “the plan by Trade and Industry Minister Kenneth Valley to get former sugar workers involved in producing basic food items.”

The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) is responsible for driving the development of the non-energy manufacturing and services sectors, and the minister reference to initiatives concerning agricultural production was in the context of agribusiness/industrial development as it falls under the Standing Committee on Business Development (SCBD) for which MTI acts as the secretariat.

As such, given the context of the discussions, and the secretariat function of MTI, the minister was not attempting to assume responsibility for the production of agricultural commodities but merely sharing general information on some of the decisions taken towards developing industries relevant to the Couva/Pt Lisas business and community development interests.

Secondly, the SCBD is an advisory committee to Cabinet, which was established in 2003 by the Prime Minister. The committee comprises representatives from major private sector organisations responsible for non-energy sector business growth and development in T&T, along with government ministers, state agencies and senior public officers. Jarrette Narine, Minister of Agriculture, Land and Marine Resources is also a member of the SCBD.

Its objective is to facilitate the growth and expansion of industrial activity in the non-energy sector and to develop a suitable environment for business and investment in T&T for long-term economic sustainability, a critical component of the Government’s goal of T&T attaining developed nation status by the year 2020.

As you may be aware, to this end, the SCBD has targeted for aggressive development, seven industries in which T&T has enjoyed traditional advantages, and held a substantial resource base or had the potential for competitive advantage in the international trading environment. These are yachting, fish and fish processing, merchant marine, music and entertainment, film, printing and packaging and food and beverages.

Indeed, reporters from your newspaper and other media houses have covered the separate launches of the various industry strategic plans, which are now all in various stages of implementation.

And thirdly, in addition to these seven industries, the committee has also approved the agribusiness development component of the Agricultural Sector Reform Programme of the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Marine Resources which has also identified seven areas for development: pumpkin, hot pepper, sweet potato, tilapia, cassava, rabbit and paw paw.

As in the case of these seven industrial and service sectors, for each of these items, industry development committees comprising private and public stakeholders developed strategic plans for ramping up agricultural production, and these plans will now be forwarded to Cabinet for approval.

The agribusiness development project is designed to assist in the diversification of the economy, along with re-engineering the agricultural sector. In particular, it is also focused on increasing local food crop production and increasing the level and range of value-added agribusiness products, which can compete effectively in the export markets.

As you can imagine, the entire agrisector reform programme is a wide-ranging, comprehensive sector specific redevelopment exercise which could never be covered in a few simple lines.

Once the entire proposal has received Cabinet approval, all relevant documentation will be available for public review and comment.

Tanya Carr,

Corporate Communications Specialist,

Ministry of Trade and Industry


Work hard and success will follow

CONGRATULATIONS and best wishes to all SEA students on your placement in the examinations.

I especially want to congratulate those who were not placed in their preferred school, for whatever reason and are disappointed and crestfallen.

I wish to empathise with those who shed tears of bitter disappointment and disbelief. Shed your tears and move on; the future beckons, young ones.

Life is full of disappointments and how we cope with and face and overcome them is a testimony of our strength, faith and character. If you were disappointed at your placement, I want to encourage you to lift your head high and remember that you are a child of Almighty God, wonderfully made and full of potential.

You had your dreams before you wrote the SEA examination. Do not discard them, keep them before you always and work harder and smarter to achieve them, day by day.

As you enter your new school, keep focused. Don’t get involve in idleness, rather, follow students who work hard, are well disciplined, respect themselves and others, are involved in the life of the school and healthy pursuits.

Also make a time-table for home work, revision and stick to it daily. If you have not been placed in the school you desired, it is not the end of the line for you.

Remember, success is still within your grasp. Work to achieve it and make yourselves, friends, teachers and community proud.

Edwin Primus

Archdeacon, South


Problems with insurance firm

PUBLIC servants were recently forced into a compulsory health plan. I have heard my colleagues complaining about this plan before but never had cause to be involved until recently.

It appears that as part of the arrangement, the Public Services Association is the intermediary between the claimant and the insurance company. I needed to get an urgent letter from the insurance company for an expensive (at least for me) medical examination.

As instructed by my doctor, I took an estimate of the cost of the test to the PSA, expecting that I would get my letter the same day. I was informed by a clerk that my request had to go to the company. Trying to save time, I asked for the address of a branch of the company where I could take my application.

I almost fell off my chair when I was told that the company “does not deal with the public.” Who is this company that, after taking my $64 every month, will tell me it “does not deal with the public?”

I was told to leave the application and that I might get a reply in a week.

I suppose that after this letter I might get a reply, sometime before Christmas, saying the company will not be paying any part of the bill.

Boswell John

San Juan


So what if we change our hair

I READ a letter by Merle Celestine in the August 5 Guardian, Nothing wrong with ‘kinky’ hair. That is her opinion.

She wants to know why our African women, relax, straighten and blonde their hair? The answer is simple: it looks nicer, neater and make them more beautiful.

Secondly, she wants to know why they have children with other races? Answer: they fall in love and want these people to be a parent to their kids.

Celestine, get over it and get on with your life, whether your hair is kinky, straight or otherwise. It is what we have inside that counts. Our hair and everything else will be left behind, we take nothing with us.

Marion Woods,

Port-of-Spain


Political comedy at its best

I am confused.

Here I was thinking that the UNC’s so called ceasefire was meant to represent the start of getting the UNC back in shape.

Seems I was wrong, though, because since Panday’s call for civil war, the executive of the UNC has rallied solidly behind him and are now using every public forum to stroke this political failure’s ego.

Oh well, it won’t be the first time the UNC has lied, disappointed and reduced itself to nothing more than the strongest advocates for the PNM’s continued hold on the Government.

Actually, by now, I’m accustomed to it.

I just wish they would forewarn us so we could capture some of the best political comedy on tape.

C Mansingh

via e-mail

 

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