Satnarine Bachew, CEO of KC Confectionary, at the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Trinidad and Tobago’s 13th Annual International Finance and Accounting Conference at the Hyatt on Thursday. – Photo by Sureash Cholai –
IN THE absence of a proper regulatory framework to protect the environment Satnarine Bachew, CEO of KC Confectionery Ltd, challenged accountants at the ICATT Beyond Finance conference held at the Hyatt Regency on Thursday to take a stand against unsustainable practices in the businesses they represent.
He issued the challenge in his presentation at the conference on building institutions for sustainable development.
“I think the accounting fraternity has an important role to play in that, as the gatekeepers to companies and the people who report on finances. It can’t just be the bottom line. We have to put a lot of factors in there. Sometimes you have to put your hand up against the flow of the tide like a salmon that swims upstream to say, “This is wrong,” he said.
Bachew said that if TT wants to build organisations geared toward sustainable development organisations must take its corporate responsibility seriously. He said that starts at a global level then at a national level and finally at an institutional level.
“Through our education programs as organisations, we can drive (sustainable environmental practices) down to the man on the street – so we would not throw things out the windows of our vehicles, or look for somewhere to dump the old fridge,” he said. “We will do things properly.
“Institutions have a tremendous role to play in driving this all the way down, but sometimes we shirk that responsibility and say ‘that doesn’t affect me. I need to make money and that’s it.’”
He took to task several industries such as the quarrying industry, and knocked people’s practice of polluting the water courses. He also highlighted the phenomenon of people constructing buildings in areas without approvals.
“In foreign countries you cannot put a stake in the ground without an approval,” he said. “Here, well, you do anything and everything. If you wake up in the morning and say you want to stretch or you say you want to put up an apartment next door, you can go and put it. Then when we have flooding the authorities say ‘unapproved development.’ People are changing the courses of rivers on their own. How did that happen?”
He said that TT’s lack of a regulatory framework for sustainable environmental practices was a “tremendous opportunity” for businesses and organisations to now make a difference. However, he said TT would be putting itself in great risk of feeling the full brunt of bad practices if no one takes a stand.
“Go back to 2008 and 2009 with the financial crisis. Reports show that people knew, and they stayed quiet. And we had a global meltdown. So what does that tell you?”
Bachew holds a bachelors of science degree, a master of science degree, and an executive master’s degree in business administration. He served as a director on the TT Manufacturers Association and as the chairman of the Airports’ Authority. He also served for 20 years at TCL, and for ten years was its general manager.