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Business Groups Delivers Ultimatum

11 of this country's largest business groups have delivered an ultimatum to Prime Minister Patrick Manning and UNC political leader Basdeo Panday: meet for immediate dialogue, return to a functioning Parliament or return to the polls.

In a strongly-worded January 21 letter from the American Chamber to Manning and Panday, the groups said: "The country requires an early functioning Parliament to remove the current uncertainty failing which the alternative is fresh elections."

Signed by AmCham president Catherine Kumar, Trinidad Chamber president Raoul John, Bankers Association president Ronald Harford and vice chairman of the Employers Consultative Association W A Hilton-Clarke, the letter was written on behalf of the other business organisations as well.

Concerned that political uncertainty was "negatively impacting our businesses in a very real sense", the groups- stressing they were responsible for the hundreds of thousands of employees-said this "dire situation, if prolonged, has consequences for the country's socio-economic situation as well as its international standing and credibility".

The seeming "paralysis in governance" has resulted in the "inability of Ministers, as indicated by permanent secretaries, to renew licences which existing businesses enjoy", the groups noted as a threat to their operations.
"Against this background, we urge both of you to do your part to end this unacceptable state of affairs in the shortest time possible", so that business can progress subject to parliamentary supervision.

Ensuring a functioning Parliament will "necessitate immediate dialogue between both of you", the groups advised Manning and Panday.
"You both have a very serious joint responsibility to resolve this matter expeditiously," the Chambers further warned. "This is an imperative for national stability and security."

The businesses have invited Manning and Panday to meet on Tuesday to discuss the issues and facilitate dialogue.

In the interim, "there will be a need for an agreement on how the affairs of the country will be conducted to minimise the negative impact".

Trinidad and Tobago News

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