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A costly bargain

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

A favourite pastime in T&T is to blame shopkeepers for price gouging and exorbitant profits. Perhaps some do abuse the system but, in reality, as you seek post-Christmas sale bargains, spare a thought to retailers in Trinidad and Tobago.

Like other sectors, many are facing a dip in revenues as the country’s economy dives south. This has been further exacerbated by a growth in online shopping. The reaction by many is to think that these difficulties are just desserts for a sector grown used to high prices and high margins. Those who believe that should think again.

Retail remains a key element of any economy. It employs a considerable number of people, it plays a role in the property market, they help keep entire neighbourhoods viable and they also pay a fair share of taxes. Amazon has no such extra costs and it also benefits from the ability to squeeze suppliers given its huge purchasing power.

Online shopping is here to stay and it has created a thriving new sector in T&T. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, local retailers also need a level playing field. Businesses will come and go but we must be sure that the right policies and incentives are in place to guarantee our cities continue to have thriving retail sectors, employing thousands and contributing to the country’s growth.

Troubled waters

As we head towards the year’s end, it is time for the Government to put together its list of resolutions for 2018. One of them no doubt must be a long term and uncontroversial solution to the sea bridge linking our islands.

For that to happen, the Government will need to go out of its way to show transparency and good value when the cabinet chooses its alternatives to both the fast and slow ferries. This is needed not only because the islands’ economy can benefit from a proper service, but for the Government to redeem itself from the fiasco over the tendering process so far.

Galactic pan

It’s pleasing to hear our very own steelpan playing a role in the new Star Wars film, The Last Jedi. In fact, it is the steelpan’s second outing in a Star Wars movie.

Exporting culture is not only great for a country’s image but it can also bring much needed foreign currency to these shores. More should and must be done to exploit our steelpan as a commercially viable export product.


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