Mr. Bhushan Singh

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Bhushan Singh

Bhushan Singh

Mr. Bhushan Singh is a Lecturer, Consultant & Team Lead of the Sustainable and Renewable Energy Project Incubator of the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business.


Mr. Singh has worked in both the public and private sectors and has served as a consultant in both a technical and professional capacity locally and abroad. www.lokjackgsb.edu.tt

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The evolution of the world in the age of the information superhighway seems to be getting faster and faster by the day.

We have seen inflexion points before in technological evolution and it’s quite possible that we are now at one of those inflexion points. In the digital age technology is at the heart of everything.

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In a report by Ian Bremmer it was noted that while Greece with a debt to GDP ratio- in the vicinity 173%-   has been the highlight of the news in the recent past; few might realize that Japan’s debt to GDP is in the vicinity of 229%.  For comparison Trinidad and Tobago has a debt to GDP ratio of 41.6%. For Greece and Japan that is a staggering amount of debt to be carrying you may say.

But it warrants further analysis.

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Is this an oxymoron? Of course profit leads to prosperity! Why would anyone think any differently? Why do businesses exist? Is the sole purpose of the business to generate profits for the shareholders? Does profit alone equate to increased shareholder value? Do corporate profits from large firms translate to widespread economic prosperity? Is it enough for large companies to solely pay their taxes and think that is all that is required of them?

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In 1860 the Pony Express advertised letters delivered to San Francisco from New York in an astounding 10 days. That was pretty revolutionary in that time. Not just the speed of delivery but the opportunities for commerce that speed of delivery afforded.

Since then we have moved by leaps and bounds in increasing the speed of delivery. We have moved from horse drawn carriages to airplanes and satellites in space for communication. So what is the next big thing on the horizon?

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The Great Empire

Britain:  a country that once ruled the world- a vast empire built by bringing other nations into submission sometimes forcibly- other times surreptitiously, recently decided that it had enough of being under the control of the European Union.

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On 6th August 1987, Korean Air 801 was approaching Guam for a nighttime landing. One of the instruments on the ground that usually guides pilots to the runway for an Instrument Landing was not working (the glideslope) that day. This is typically not a problem as pilots then used what was known as a non-precision approach.

On approaching however, the captain saw a flicker on the instrument and despite the copilot and flight engineer indicating that it was a false signal and that the airport was not in sight; the captain exercised his authority and proceeded to fly the aircraft, eventually resulting in the plane flying into a hill and killing 228 of the 258 persons on board.

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Consider the following two examples. When Costco was expanding into the UK, its bankers brought to their attention that if they structured a loan transaction in a certain way both the loan and principal could be booked as a tax deductible as opposed to the interest only. Doesn’t this sound great? However when Costco’s executives examined the issue deeply it became clear to them that while it was a legal loophole in the tax code it was not in keeping with the spirit of the law and they did not take advantage of the legal loophole. Good for them.

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We are now in the midst of a recession and panic and uncertainty in the energy sector is order of the day. What is more worrying is that our economy is energy based. We have been talking about diversification for more than thirty years now and I suspect, if my crystal ball is correct, that we will continue talking about diversification for some time to come.

According to Heifetz 2009, “Uncertainty will continue as the norm even after the recession ends. Economies cannot erect a firewall against intensifying global competition, energy constraints, climate change and political instability. The immediate crisis which we will get through with policy makers and expert technical adjustments merely sets the stage for a sustained or even permanent crisis or serious and unfamiliar challenges.”

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History is awash with examples of economic paradigm shifts. I don’t want to go too far back, but one can easily recall the dismantling of the British Empire. There are always those who will benefit and those who will not with each paradigm shift.

With the failure of Arcelor Mittal in Trinidad and Tobago and the retrenchment of so many employees in other companies we often hear about the statistics. We look at the numbers and wonder what the effect on the GDP would be. How will that affect my business? What is the country’s unemployment rate? What is the effect on foreign exchange earnings? Will the price of steel now be higher? Etc. etc.

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