Race issues ‘hampering progress’ in T&T – energy expert

(Trinidad Express) Racial tension continues to be an issue in Trinidad and Tobago, two of the country’s business leaders have suggested.

Energy expert Robert Riley said yesterday that race issues “have been with us” for years and were impacting on how the country moved forward.

Riley, who was chairman of energy company bpTT for years until he was assigned to BP’s London office in January, said the country’s race issues were getting in its way.

Back in Trinidad and Tobago for a few days, Riley was speaking to reporters yesterday following his feature address at the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting business luncheon at the Hyatt Regency (Trinidad) hotel in Port of Spain.

He said no one race could drive Trinidad and Tobago’s development forward on its own.

It was also important to bring other elements of society together, including business and labour.

Earlier in his presentation on charting a pathway for the development of the economy, he said: “We have not worked hard enough as a nation on developing a vision that is shared and owned by a critical mass of our leaders regardless of race, political or other persuasions that has powerfully despite our complexities and differences united us under a common purpose and banner as a nation.”

“We have to deal with the issue of race and the deep beliefs and fears in order to understand what our society needs to aspire to at that level in the future. And finally our vision needs to speak not to some future economic reality but to a much deeper commitment to a stated set of universal values and norms,” he added.

Interviewed briefly by the Express following the luncheon Chamber president Andrew Sabga agreed that there were “underlying racial tensions” caused by political division but there was no significant level of racism in civil society.


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