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Overhaul ease of doing business

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Doc’s Engineering CEO, Shymdeo Gosine:

AS the country celebrates 60 years of Independence today, there is a clarion call for improving the ease of doing business especially for the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector moving forward.

This is the view of Shymdeo Gosine, managing director of Doc’s Engineering Works Ltd as he reflected on operating his SME business.

Located at Phoenix Park Road, West Point Lisas, Doc’s Engineering specialises in manufacturing, contracting, engineering and construction.

In an interview with the Express Business on Saturday, Gosine said his business, which has been operational since 1992, has found it problematic to get things processed in a timely manner from Customs, the public service to the regulatory bodies.

He noted that these bodies are in need of transforming and change management programmes.

“Bear in mind that an economy cannot thrive without a healthy private sector. When local businesses flourish, they create jobs and generate income that can be spent and invested domestically.”

Gosine indicated that the Government cannot do it alone and the private sector must be brought in as a partner to take Trinidad on a path where both business confidence and investor confidence can be ably restored.

Suggestions given by the businessman to improve the ease of doing business include:

· Dealing with construction permits; Procedures, time and cost to complete all formalities to build a warehouse and the quality control and safety mechanisms in the construction permitting system

· Getting electricity; Procedures, time and cost to get connected to the electrical grid, the reliability of the electricity supply and the transparency of tariffs

· Registering properties; Procedures, time and cost to transfer a property and the quality of the land administration system

· Getting credit; Movable collateral laws and credit information systems

· Protecting minority investors; Minority shareholders’ rights in related-party transactions and in corporate governance

· Paying taxes; Payments, time, total tax and contribution rate for a firm to comply with all tax regulations as well as post filing processes

· Trading across borders; Time and cost to export the product of comparative advantage and import; enhancing Trade Facilitation

· Enforcing contracts; Time and cost to resolve a commercial dispute and the quality of judicial processes (Speed to get matters to trial are a serious national issue)

He also highlighted the serious need for banking sector reforms and the expansion of non-banking entities that will facilitate credit to business entities and the SME’s sectors at reasonable interest rates and terms of payments.

Gosine is confident that this task can be fulfilled and looks forward towards this nation moving towards developed nation status.

Specialised water tanks

In giving insight as to what Doc’s Engineering has been up to, Gosine said earlier this month the company constructed a very specialised water tank for the Khan’s Group of Companies.

“None of its kind was ever built in Trinidad and Tobago before using this unique technology. Among its many benefits, these kinds of tanks can be placed in tight spaces and underground.

“Internationally, such tanks are also used in storm shelters, schools, hospitals and sports stadiums. It must also be stated that these kinds of tanks can withstand the sudden impacts of hurricanes or even earthquakes. Consequently, it is imperative to note that underground tanks do not produce algae, as there is no sunlight for them to thrive,” the businessman explained.

He outlined that another benefit is that these tanks have a special thermal effect for drinking water as it has the capability to keep the temperature of the water very cool, which positively impacts the water’s potability.

Asked how the idea was conceptualised, Gosine said the water tank project utilises the Waffle Crete System that the company bought to build houses 22 years ago in Trinidad and Tobago.

“However, it was discovered that this system has many applications, such as water tanks and retaining walls.

The Waffle Crete System is applicable within our business activities in the spheres of construction of houses, apartments and commercial buildings. The uniqueness of this system is that it is light, e.g. it weighs 40 per cent of a six- to eight-inch solid wall. In this way, it uses less materials and will be able to utilise a less costly foundation. The waffle system has the strength of a solid panel and it is 60 per cent of the overall weight,” he said.

CEO of Global Building Systems, Dave Van Doren, who Gosine said has been his business associate for the past 20 years, has always made himself available to ensure that the proper construct and engineering applications are executed in the correct manner, thereby ensuring very minimal cost overruns.

The cost to construct a specialised water tank for commercial or industrial use can be approximately $500,000 and residential $220,000. But Gosine stated that these figures represent variable costs, as the prices are customised and are set according to the job specifications and the scope of works involved in the specific project.

“We try to find ways to save costs for our clients, but bear in mind that their return on this investment will be very positive as this specific water tank will last them at least 100 years and is built to withstand several types of natural disasters,” said Gosine.

As to whether there has been any interest from local companies about the tank since the construction for Khan’s Group of companies, Gosine noted there are many expressed interests and enquiries, but Doc’s have not gotten to the stage of getting any new orders just yet.

“We are optimistic that new orders will be realised in the near term. However, strong focus is being placed on business development and marketing. Information about products and services is placed on our several social media platforms and websites. We are also collaborating with an advertising firm to manage these kinds of external communications and we look forward to welcoming new customers,” he remarked.

Opportunities

With the economy recovering from the financial impact brought on by the pandemic, he said Doc’s Engineering Works is currently embarking on a project dealing with the construction of 300 plus homes.

“The company has the capabilities of erecting two houses a day. We are working with the Town and Country Planning Department for all statutory approvals, and hopefully we may commence this project in early 2023.”

He added that Doc’s also does projects in Jamaica, Suriname, Guyana, Barbados, and St Lucia.

“All of these projects comprise the construction of affordable houses, some infrastructure work and preparation of land usage for construction.”

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