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Bharath: CAL looking to deal with spending

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Approaches have been made to Caribbean Airlines (CAL) to initiate a Colombia/T&T/London route and a Panama/T&T/London route, Trade Minister Vasant Bharath says. At yesterday’s weekly post-Cabinet press conference Bharath said the current focus for the moment was on returning to basics and dealing with capital expenditure. 

He said he met recently with new CAL interim board chairman Phillip Marshall on what he (Bharath) expected from the new board. He said people who have worked with the former BWIA and early Caribbean Airlines structure also were assisting.

He said CAL also was finalising issues concerning the Air Jamaica arrangement and quelling Jamaican concerns on outstanding matters. Most of a total of US$15 million owed to Jamaica had been paid except US$2 million which would be paid by month end, he said.
Bharath said Government had lost market share on the Jamaican routes of the CAL arrangement with Air Jamaica which have been taken up by other carriers.

He, however, said Government was committed to increase the frequency of routes to deal with the situation. Bharath said there were some “emotional” issues concerning the Jamaican diaspora to deal with, as well as regarding the market and branding, such as whether to use both logos on planes or one. He stood by the viability of the arrangement and resuscitation of the effort.

He also announced moves to further enhance T&T’s image concerning ease of doing business. He said he would head an inter-ministerial team which aimed to deal with the remaining issues which took long to complete and which hampered T&T’s business systems. Those issues included tax payments, enforcing contracts, registering property and dealing with contractual permits, it was stated.

Bharath said solutions to eliminate problems would include a possible fixed fees for stamp duty, elimination of the need for WASA clearance certificates, electronic filing, improving reporting functions, revamped legislation, electronic filing and other innovations
Asked about the July march planned by the labour movement, which has demands, Bharath said T&T could increase its debt line but, he added, that would cause the country to fall into the “debt trap” and would have to face IMF assistance like other regional states.

 As of now, he said, T&T was on a firmer footing in comparison to other islands, the US and Europe, though everyone had to be responsible in their dealings to preserve the situation.