AS ANOTHER BUDGET APPROACHES T&T MUST SEEK A NEW ECONOMIC PATH

By STEVE ALVAREZ DPTT Political Leader

The needs of the Police Service are many. They include new uniforms, more patrol cars, additional tas­ers, body cameras and paying the many suppliers that support the service. In healthcare, there is the need for payments to contrac­tors and suppliers. Similar needs are common among the various Ministries that service the people of Trinidad and Tobago. As an­other annual budget approaches, citizens await the Minister’s list of goodies, wishes and responsi­bilities with some degree of anxi­ety as there have not been any visible signs of new or additional income to support the typical fifty-billion-dollar budget that seems to be the new norm.


Neither the present govern­ment, the Opposition nor the many new parties that are hoping to be elected into office in 2020 have proposed a realistic, exciting and immediate plan to transform our economy from a major dependent on the energy sector and burden­some taxes on the citizens.
The Democratic Party of Trini­dad & Tobago has a plan that not only allows for the government to meet its current expenditure but positions the Nation to be a major economic centre in the Caribbean. The economic activities envisaged by the DPTT allows for long term employment for every citizen of Trinidad and Tobago who is will­ing to work. Regardless of the promises and plans of the many political organizations vying for victory at the 2020 General Elec­tion, no real progress is possible without adequate financing.
The last two administrations have withdrawn and borrowed from the financial savings of our Nation without a clear path to paying for the economic debt that continues to grow daily. Unless the population chooses a political party that has a clear realistic plan for economic re­covery the Nation’s debt will con­tinue to rise, the development will be stagnated and social and economic instability will prevail.

Tourism will be a major player

The DPTT’s plan is to move away from an economic model that depends largely on one sector of our society to a multi-faceted source of income in partnership with the business community and our international partners. The de­tails are too many to be outlined in this article, but in general it incor­porates utilizing our advantageous geographical position, our natural resources and our talented and educated population to maximum advantage. Positioned outside the hurricane belt, Trinidad and Toba­go will see investments in marinas and ship services that utilize the calm waters and many islands on the western coast.
That initiative along with the in­frastructure needed to build world-class service centres will attract foreign income and spur economic activity for a decade. Tourism will be a major player with em­phasis on cruise ship facilities, environmentally sensitive devel­opment to access our many caves, mountains, rivers, swamps and beaches, repackaging carnival and our other festivities, steel pan pro­duction and promotions and health tourism. Food production and processing will support the new economic structure as activity in this area will not only reduce the demand for foreign food but earn foreign income for generations.
Tropical fruits and vegetables will be cultivated at levels and in quality that allows for export. Co­conut, coffee, cocoa, citrus, avo­cados and sugar cane to support a renewed investment in high-quality rum, as well as a modern approach to fishing and rearing livestock, will see Trinidad and Tobago become the food basket of the Caribbean.

Government services will become less bureaucratic

These initiatives cannot be en­tered by government alone. For them to be successful, every citi­zen will be required to play their part as the government seeks new business arrangements and partnerships with international organizations, the local business community and the trade union movement. All of these new ap­proaches must be anchored by a renewed commitment to reducing criminal activity including fraud.
There must be a strategic and structured approach to reducing or eliminating corruption. Govern­ment services will become less bu­reaucratic as the Nation positions itself to become more business-friendly. The public service will be transformed to encourage invest­ment. Moreover, the Nation has to start the journey to electing po­litical parties and people to service based on merit rather than race.

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