Order of the Republic of T&T — For Distinguished & Outstanding Service to T&T
Wendell Mottley (Former Finance Minister/athlete) — National Development/Public Service
There is no solace in saying I told you so, especially when Trinidad and Tobago continues along a path towards further economic decline.
This writer and others have suggested that the current structure of property tax could not facilitate early collection.
It was suggested that if the Government needed to access quick funding from property tax, the old structure should have been continued with a percentage increase.
That suggestion seems to have been ignored. One wonders what is required to influence politicians to take action that is in the best interest of T&T.
There is no doubt that among our people on both sides of the political divide there are citizens with international experience and a history of success that can make tremendous contributions towards the restructuring of T&T. These people, however, are very often overlooked and less qualified. Politically connected people though seem to be the ones given the opportunity to hold positions that are critical to our economic survival.
As budget time approaches, we are once again faced with declining sources of income and escalating expenses with little to show in way of a path out of economic failure.
As the rest of the world is moving away from fossil fuel energy in a concerted way, we seem to pin our economic hopes on some magical major oil and gas discovery that should somehow wipe away our debts and lead us out of deficit financing.
If one is to be guided by media reports, it is possible to conclude that success in the governance in T&T is measured by how much one can distribute our limited wealth and not by creating wealth.
As we brace for more cuts in government spending let us look at some of the suggestions that this writer has made over the years.
Invest heavily in agriculture to reduce our food import bill. Structure this investment in partnership with the business community to arrive at products that cannot only feed the local population but can be exported. Ignored.
Chacachacare is ideally situated outside of the hurricane belt and ideally positioned in proximity to Venezuela and Panama to be a port, a marina, a resort island or a major casino destination. That island should be developed in conjunction with international partners as a major source of investment and potential income earner. Ignored.
Develop our natural resources, rivers, swamps, caves, mountains and beaches to international standards as a major initiative in partnership with our business community to make tourism a major pillar in our economic restructure plan. Ignored.
Make pan and Carnival profitable by investing in qualified marketing and management personnel not linked to our temporary structure of political appointments. Create new avenues of income and job creation by investing in a new network of roads, building industrial parks and offer low cost rental to the business community, a park ranger service to patrol state lands and tourism sites, restructuring local government to be more community based and restructure state enterprises and the public sector to be more customer friendly and efficient. Ignored.
Our new economic plan ought to be multi-faceted and not based on sector of our economy. Ignored.
This is only a short list of the many suggestions that have been made over the years. Perhaps it is time for our politicians to indicate to the population why they continue to ignore suggestions that can benefit the people of T&T. The time will come when race will no longer be a basis for voting and hopefully then we may find a way to embrace all our people and save our nation.
God Bless Our Nation.
Steve Alvarez is the leader of the Democratic Party of T&T
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