February 13, 2009
Chamber calls for higher productivity, committment in workforce of SVG

A call has been made for a higher level of productivity and commitment in the workforce of St Vincent and the Grenadines.{{more}}

The call was made by veteran accountant Stanley Defreitas as he addressed the half-day forum held by the Chamber of Commerce, where business leaders and experts in the public sector gathered to discuss scenarios and responses for St Vincent and the Grenadines in the midst of the global economic crisis.

“Today we have a population who actually shows up for work but not for work,” Defreitas said, as he addressed the small gathering at the Methodist Church Hall.

He noted that while some will say that in St Vincent and the Grenadines the wage bill isn’t high, when someone is paid for eight hours work and only puts in four hours productivity, it effectively makes the wage bill high.

He also stressed on the need for better governance in these times, warning against following the trend of putting people in positions because of political, religious or family loyalties, to the expense of proper governance.

The gathering was also told by the immediate Past President of the Chamber of Commerce, Jerry George, that they must brace themselves for the impact because it isn’t a question of if, but when the world’s financial crisis will affect them.

Most of the time was, however, spent trying to make sense of the problems facing CL Financial, which led to the government of Trinidad and Tobago’s over TT$1 billion bailout of the giant company.

Despite continued words of assurance from executives of the various branches of CL Financial, and the governments of Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, and here in St Vincent and the Grenadines, about the safety of investments in the conglomerate, many remain skeptical.

Retired Construction Executive Jack Joachim told the gathering that it was important for people to understand that investments always include risks, noting that the higher the earnings, the higher the risks.

The point was also raised that while the subsidiaries of CL Financial, like British America and the CLICO Barbados Holdings, operate independent of the umbrella company, that some of these subsidiaries may have loaned money to the parent company or other subsidiaries.

Therefore, if the parent company or another subsidiary that is loaned money cannot pay it back, wouldn’t it affect the entity that has loaned the money?

“We don’t know yet whether or not the assets in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, if these funds have been transferred or loaned to CLICO or the other sister companies, and if these sister companies are in trouble, are we going to get back a percentage on the dollar? I think that is what is troubling most people today,” Defritas said.