Al-Rawi: Government has big plans for making CEPEP more sustainable

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Local Government Minister Faris Al-Rawi, left, speaks with Nigel Pierre and Stephen Harewood at CEPEP’s Health Safety Security and Environment Exhibition held at its head office at Factory Road Ste Madeleine on Friday. – ROGER JACOB

The Government has big plans to boost the economy by involving the Community-Based Environmental Protection and Enhancement Programme (CEPEP) in business-development projects.

Speaking at CEPEP’s head office at Factory Road, Ste Madelieine on Friday, Rural Development and Local Government Minister Faris Al-Rawi said CEPEP was part of the ministry’s integration of local economic development.

Al-Rawi was attending a health, safety, security and environment exhibition hosted by the company.

He said there were HDC communities with no place to do business, like a beauty salon or mini-mart.

“Why? Because local economic boosts were not part of the landscape then. Local Government has stepped in to treat with that,” Al-Rawi said.

“Secondly, we have a society that needs supplementation of income, and we have a good import bill of nearly $3 billion. Therefore, the two things coincide.

Al-Rawi said CEPEP, which was meant to be an incubator model, was an ideal platform “to have hydroponics, to have soil, to have mulching as a home together with the Rural Development Company.

“We are looking to bring about the local government reform through innovation that allows supplementing of income, because we do need to ensure people’s quality of life is better.

“Part of it involves entrepreneurship.

“Therefore, we have tested models that make great business sense. We have to approach the Cabinet now.”

He added that a one-year trial was planned for some of these models.

The minister said, “We have proof of concept. We know how much money we could make from how many units and what investment. So, there are some very exciting days ahead of us as a Government.”

Some of the workers had called for a pay increase.

In response, Al-Rawi said everybody, himself included, wanted more money.

“What we are offering right now is some degree of entrepreneurship. Why? Because the market is there,” Al-Rawi said.

The company has an estimated 10,200 employees and hundreds of contractors.

“I do not think the population truly understands the size of this operation and how well it performs,” Al-Rawi said.

He added CEPEP plays a big part in preparing for natural disasters in colloboration with the ODPM and regional corporations.

“Today is a part of that preparation. Health and safety is a big part of what we do,” Al-Rawi said.

CEPEP CEO Keith Eddy said the event marked the company’s third year showcasing products and services that would help contractors and workers.

Eddy said he was pleased with the large turnout and that there were 29 exhibitors.

CEPEP chairman Joel Edwards and other officials also attended.