Appointment of Directors to the Boards of the East Port of Spain Development Company Limited & The Port of Spain Shopping Complex Limited
The Honourable Camille Robinson-Regis, MP
Minister of Housing and Urban Development
Wednesday, November 23, 2022
- The Honourable Adrian Leonce, Minister in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development
- Ms. Nirmala Ramlogan, Acting Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Development
- Incoming Members of the Board of the East Port of Spain Development Company Limited
- Dr. Deborah Thomas-Austin, Managing Director of the East Port of Spain Development Company Limited
- Members of the media
- Ladies and Gentlemen
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It is my distinct pleasure to be able today to present instruments of appointment to the members of the Board of Directors of the East Port of Spain Development Company and the Port of Spain Shopping Complex Limited. Moreover, I wish to express thanks to you on behalf of the Government and the people of Trinidad and Tobago, and moreso the good citizens of East Port of Spain, in whose service you are now employed.
Ladies and gentlemen, I hold firmly to the view that you ought not to go through a single day of life without having an impact on the world around you. Whatever you do should make a difference, and every day we get to decide what kind of difference we are going to make. That for me is the essence of public service, an essential but often thankless undertaking, planting trees under whose shade we will never sit. But after more than 30 years in the public service, I can assure you that there is no greater challenge, and certainly no greater honour than to be in the public service.
Your decision to offer yourself in service to your country, comes at a time when it is difficult to easily find persons willing to sacrifice their time, talent, and treasure, in the name of public service. This is what makes your decision all the more important, and all the more significant for us, both here at the level of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development and at the level of Central Government.
Addressing the multiplicity and multifaceted nature of the issues facing East Port of Spain, providing the people of East Port of Spain with the tools the tools of economic and social empowerment, and keeping East Port of Spain on a path to economic, social and environmental prosperity, has never been an easy task, but I am convinced that the persons gathered here today are more than equal to the challenge.
With broad range of skills and experiences resident in these two (2) Boards, I am confident that you possess the breadth and depth of knowledge needed to tackle the complex challenges facing East Port of Spain. As always, our commitment is to put people first and to nurture them as our greatest asset, all of which we will expect to see reflected in the strategies and policies you implement in furtherance of this mandate.
Irrespective of the nature of the projects being undertaken, whether they are projects to improve Water and Wastewater Management, Creative and Cultural Industries, Sport, Food Security, Community Pride and Ownership, or Infrastructure Improvement, your work will be helping someone, somewhere, every day in East Port-of-Spain.
The Board of the Port of Spain Shopping Complex Limited has direct responsibility for the East Size Plaza and New City Malls. These two (2) commercial enterprises were established principally to afford opportunities for persons on the lower end of the economic spectrum, and in fulfillment of our administration’s desire to grow the micro and small enterprise sector. Government, as facilitator, is intent on ensuring that more persons like the 143 tenants at the East Side Plaza, and the 120 entrepreneurs in the New City Mall, are weaned off the state’s welfare programmes, and allowed to stand proudly as masters of their own destiny.
Between both establishments one can discover local craft artisans specializing in jewelry and clothing, as well as other services such as hairdressing, tailoring, dressmaking and nail artistry.
The common thread running through both entities though is the provision of retail accommodation for small business entrepreneurs to offer for sale a range of art, craft and other items. Of even greater significance is the fact that many of these owners are either women or single mothers. There are also several senior citizens who sell their confectionery items, spices and unique craft.
The Port of Spain Shopping Complex Ltd. has been operating without a Board of Directors for over two years and upon my assumption of duties at this Ministry, the appointment of this Board became one of my top priorities. The absence of a Board of Directors for such a prolonged period, unfortunately translates into a sense of urgency in dealing with matters which could only have been dealt with by a Board of Directors. You may be faced therefore with some initial challenges, none of which I believe is insurmountable. What is therefore necessary, in short order, for you to come together with the Management of these two (2) entities to enhance the lives of your clientele and improve the community of East Port of Spain.
I believe that as a team, led by your Chairman, Mr. Montgomery Guy, you will achieve your mandate. I am also comforted in my belief that Ms. Annmarie Francis-Charles, and Ms. Sharon Felix, both of whom served on the previous Board, will share from their treasury of experiences and in so doing facilitate a quicker transition to where we want the Port of Spain Shopping Complex to be.
On this new Board, the Government has sought to bring together thinkers and doers, people with the energy to flesh out the Vision 2030 Strategic Plan, and to develop the plans to produce transformational results in East
Port of Spain. In this regard I know you will find a ready ally in the East Port of Spain Development Company, whose sole reason for being is the development of East Port of Spain, and therefore carries a mandate that is not entirely dissimilar to your own.
Indeed, I am assured that the projects being undertaken by the East Port of Spain Development Company are aligned not only with the National Development Strategy – Vision 2030 and the Roadmap to Recovery, but also with global priorities identified in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
I look forward, for example, to the completion of the Desperadoes Pan Theatre and the refurbishment of additional pan yards. I wait with bated breath on new and exciting opportunities in your Production to Earn series as you bring more and more of our at risk and disenfranchised youth into the mainstream of economic activity.
Directors, in your hands are reposed the regeneration of East Port of Spain, its beautification and modernization. A daunting challenge, but one in which you will find great satisfaction. Your success as a Board will be determined by your ability to work collaboratively, not only amongst yourselves, but with the other agencies that fall under the ambit of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development.
While the task ahead is by no means an easy one, I am extremely confident that you are up to the challenge. A significant part of that challenge is to offset the negative socio-economic experiences that can and have stymied the growth of East Port of Spain. While it certainly sounds like a tall order, there is no doubt that the success of your work, the effective implementation of your plans and strategies will have significant positive impact of the levels of crime, violence, poverty and unemployment in East Port of Spain.
As you settle in to your work on this Board, developing strategies and policies, I offer a simple word of caution, and it is this: Be mindful of the clientele you are serving and the clientele they serve. The majority of these persons are in the lower to middle income bracket. Whatever you do, remember that you are working to improve the lives of these persons, helping them grow their businesses, facilitating further job and wealth creation, and in so doing encouraging their financial independence. Your success will be realized in the socio-economic development and physical beautification of East Port of Spain.
Building a better future for all of East Port of Spain is what we want, and we know it is what you want too, which is why you are here today. The time to roll up our sleeves and get to work is now. On behalf of the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, I reiterate my thanks to you in advance, and wish you all the very best.
I thank you.