Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 18th 2016 Contents FEBRUARY 18 • 2016 www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
NEWS | BG7
T&T should stop exporting crude oil.
That s the suggestion from Professor Karl
Theodore, member of the Economic Devel-
opment Advisory Board, who said that it is
time for this country to expand its production
of petroleum (crude oil) by-products.
"Let us produce something from the petro-
leum. Let us stop exporting the petroleum
and export petroleum byproducts. You see
now with the prices low we should really stop
exporting our oil. Hold on to it.
He added: "Stop exporting it. Concentrate
on using it to make other products that we
could then export."
Theodore was speaking at Tuesday s First
Meeting of the T&T Bipartite Forum on the
"Overview of the immediate, medium, long-
term impact and consequences for employment
given the current economic realities in T&T."
He acknowledged that the T&T National
Petroleum Marketing Company Ltd (NP) is
already exporting petroleum byproducts. But
he said that there was room for more because,
according to Theodore, there are more than
6,000 petroleum byproducts in the interna-
tional market and T&T only produces a few.
"We producing petroleum since 1907 and
all I know as byproducts of petroleum is gas,
diesel and maybe some grease and things like
that. There are 6,000 products that are possible
from petroleum so why can t we produce 15
or 20 products."
But producing petroleum by-products would
create a challenge for T&T s skills and human
resources, he said.
"That is where our human capital is going
to come in to help because we have the natural
resource. It is for us as people to use our brains,
skills to produce other things from it. That s
what we have to do."
Theodore added that if State enterprises
were to be given an exporting role, the com-
plaints about state-owned enterprises being
a burden on the economy would be reduced.
"I would put pressure on them as State
enterprises to become export oriented. Find
ways to export something. That is something
I think we could start but we are not doing.
Let our State enterprise become export ori-
Offering another suggestion for the econ-
omy,he said there is need to restructure it so
that T&T can deepen its footprint in the Latin
"We live next door to a huge set of people,
some 500 million people living in the Latam
region. We are a small country (we need to
find out) what we can sell these people."
He suggested that the Government needs
to take a leadership position in deepening
T&T s footprint in Latin America.
T&T has been importing everything and
anything, he said but this also means foreign
exchange is decreasing. The price of oil has
decreased by 80 per cent therefore T&T as a
nation needs to make the decision to cut
"I think we should be targeting half of our
imports. We should make an effort to identify
imports that we could really cut out signif-
Pharmaceuticals and basic necessities should
be imported not luxury goods and not "a lot
of things which are bling; we have to postpone
Measures should be put in place to ensure
T&T s foreign exchange is not decreased and
this means that T&T needs to stop leaning
He described T&T as import-driven econ-
omy both on the consumption and the pro-
Speaking with reporters after the event, Neil
Derrick vice-Chairman of the Employers Con-
sultative Association of T&T said the popu-
lation needs to be realistic about the state of
"We have already seen what has happened
with ArcelorMittal and what is happening
with some of the expatriate companies world-
wide. They may respond differently to the
State companies because we may have different
stakes and I expect there would be an increase
Derrick suggested that should unemployed
people be channeled into food production,
"we could see lower numbers (being
retrenched) but I think if we don t shift from
what we are doing today, if we continue to do
what we are doing today, the same way the
numbers (of retrenched workers) are going to
come into the double digits."
On Tuesday, BP announced that it will be
sending home more workers.
He added that a significant amount of T&T s
food is imported. Looking specifically at storage
for fresh produce he said "there is no system
of storage, therefore farmers have to sell off
their produce quickly due to the short shelf
"You need some support to the farmers,
something like a plan that looks at storage
and canning. Also, distributive farming that
looks at what the imported products are that
we have, so some of the large farms rather
than go and compete with the small farms
and create lower prices for products that can t
last long on the shelf and we have no storage
for. We need to get a more structured approach
for the process."
He said the ECA is concerned about unem-
ployment and the impact it has on people and
their lives. Derrick supported the suggestion
of an unemployment insurance plan.
"I think it is the kind of thing that govern-
ment, the employers, and the worker repre-
sentatives have to agree to in terms of struc-
Overall, concerning retrenchment, Derrick
said for organisations that have to retrench
there would be a loss in skills and "it means
the recovery period that takes about 10 to 15
years. Employers should not try to reduce costs
by retrenchment. They should look at ways
that could absorb employment."
UWI professor on diversification thrust
Look to petroleum byproducts
PHOTOS BY SHIRLEY BHADHUR
Neil Derrick, vice-Chairman,
Prof Karl Theodore, Member, Economic
Development Advisory board
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