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The last two administrations have withdrawn and borrowed from the financial savings of our Nation without a clear path to paying for the economic debt that continues to grow daily.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.