‘Business as unusual’ for economic turnaround

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NAPOLEAN HILL, the American author who focused on positivity and success, said, ‘Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.’

Undoubtedly, these are very trying times during this Covid pandemic. Businesses, whether big, medium or small, have been affected either positively or negatively and have demanded reorganisation, efficiency, innovation and adaptation to survive. It is no longer business as usual, but business as unusual. The sooner that this understanding can be appreciated, the sooner will businesses rebound from the economic downturn.

The pandemic has created a new norm and previously-fledgling initiatives are now taking centre-stage. Teleworking or telecommuting, whether working from home or another place away from the office, needs to take greater precedence in businesses and more particularly the Government, given the tremendous advances in technology.

Although there are issues being addressed in the education sector and some in the business environment, the Government must demonstrate greater interest in teleworking and decentralisation and not just pay lip service, even though there are issues such as productivity, faceto- face communication, some legal issues and even envy by those whose jobs prohibit them from working away from the office. True decentralisation requires full service and not just an office with partial services.

Another initiative that must be more ardently pursued is home delivery by supermarkets, pharmacies, vegetable markets-on-wheels, fastfood outlets and even brand names food places. Also, the pandemic has created a golden opportunity for businesses, regardless of size, to truly focus on customer service, something which businesses are quick to speak about but are woefully inadequate in execution.

Building greater confidence and trust with its customers will go a long way in retaining loyalty, especially in this period of diminishing and more careful purchases. Unfortunately, customer service has deteriorated very rapidly during this pandemic, possibly a visible fallout from frustration and diminished working hours.

Customer service training entities can leverage this shortcoming by making greater contact with businesses and incorporating more fully the issues that require address in this period, additional to the usual customer service training modules.

It is most unfortunate that businesses, as well as the political Opposition and other detractors, including religious organisations, of the Government’s policy on lockdowns are quite vociferous in their condemnation, citing continued loss of business and further deterioration of the economy. However, in addition to chambers of commerce throughout Trinidad and Tobago and an overarching Confederation of Regional Business Chambers (CoRBC), which of these has devised a plan of action for their locality to assist businesses in staying afloat?

What new business initiatives are they pursuing to capitalise on the pandemic?

How many have planned or are planning to assist the farmers in their jurisdiction to better manage and preserve their products, whether vegetable or meat?

How many have proposed or produced co-operatives besides the farmer’s market? What has the CoRBC done to increase visibility of the various chambers?

Where are the marketing and public relations initiatives?

The chambers of commerce seem to operate on the premise that the Government will help them because they are alleged supporters. What are their initiatives?

They must become more proactive rather than Government-dependent as it seems.

Banks in Trinidad and Tobago make insane profits annually, even during this pandemic. How many, if any, have contributed at least one per cent of their profits to assist non-governmental organisations that are striving to make ends meet for the socially displaced or jobless?

The various chambers of commerce, either individually or under the auspices of the CoRBC need to put together a newspaper spread, pullout or insert that showcases their practical initiatives in their localities, which unequivocally highlight their seriousness in cresting the wave of economic uncertainty.

It is accepted that some Government assistance will be required for some initiatives, but not all. It is time for the various chambers and CoRBC to lift themselves by their own petards or bootstraps to highlight their value, especially in this pandemic, and to stop shedding crocodile tears about the economy and lost or diminished business.

Beside continued protests and objections to Government’s lockdown initiatives, what have the official Opposition and chambers of commerce done or proposed to make their utterances credible?

All boats float when the tide is high, but how many remain on the rocks when it goes out or recedes?

Harjoon Heeralal
Carapichaima