Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 23rd 2017 Contents BG18 | COMMENTARY
BUSINESS GUARDIAN guardian.co.tt MARCH 23 • 2017
Crime may not pay but it costs.
Statistics from the Glob-
al Competitiveness Index
show that the cost of crime
and corruption to Trinidad
and Tobago is high and in-
creasing rapidly even as the economy shrinks.
In 2012-2013, the Global Competitive Index
ranked T&T at 84th out of 144 countries. In
that evaluation, the "most problematic con-
• Inefficient government bureaucracy (17.7
• Crime and theft (16.9 per cent),
• Poor work ethic in the National labour force
(15.2 per cent) and
• Corruption (12.7 per cent).
In the present period, 2016-2017, T&T has
dropped ten places to 94th but this time with
six fewer countries in the evaluation, 138 in-
stead of 144.
“Poor Work Ethic” in the national labour
force topped the chart at 19.8 per cent (an in-
crease of 4.6 per cent or more than 25 per cent
over a four-year period). During that time, de-
spite wage increases in almost every sector, the
work ethic fell so dramatically that it became
the most important negative influence on the
country’s competitiveness. What this proves
is that increases in salaries and better working
conditions are not matched by improvements
The corruption level increased to 14.4 per
cent, up by 1.7 per cent; the inefficient gov-
ernment bureaucracy became slightly more
efficient (13.9 per cent, down by 3.8 per cent).
Crime and theft fell to 11.9 per cent, down by
5.0 per cent. However, before we rejoice we
should examine the 2012 and 2017 Crime In-
dices for T&T from the data-gathering organ-
In 2012, T&T was not included in the top 75
"crime" troubled countries globally. Venezue-
la, South Africa, Puerto Rico, Malaysia and the
United States were the top five.
Now, in 2017, Venezuela remains at No 1 and
T&T is at number 10.
Puerto Rico is in 11th place (down from third)
and the United States, No 5 in 2012, is in 53rd
While we need to take into consideration
that many crimes---including rape, are un- or
under-reported---and others like fraud, rape
and incest may remain undiscovered, the sta-
tistics give us the big picture and help us to
see the correlation of crime, corruption and
More, the crime figures compiled and re-
leased by the Police Service are not consistent
with the murder figures and can be accounted
by the police reluctance to respond to crime
reports and to even go to the scenes, perpet-
ually claiming a lack of transport.
Police stations, brand new and much ac-
claimed, are locked tightly overnight. It is on
this basis, the murder figures tend to give a
more accurate picture of the state of crime in
In 2012-2013, when the US was fifth on the
crime “hit” parade, it was 7th on the Global
Competitiveness Index. This year, 2017, it
is No 3 on that index and 53rd on the crime
charts. Switzerland and Singapore were first
and second on the Competitiveness Index in
both 2012 and 2017. Switzerland was at 64 out
of 75 countries in 2012 and 115 from 125 in 2017.
For the same periods, Singapore was 69th and
124th respectively and almost at the bottom
of the global crime chart. This link between
crime and competitiveness is too close to be
The Jamaica Gleaner on October 5, 2016,
made the connection, "Jamaica scored a
marked improvement on the Global Competi-
tiveness Index to rank 75 among 138 countries,
its second best standing in a decade. Crime and
government inefficiency, however, weakened
the country's gains."
Mike LaSusa, in a report on “Crime, Cor-
ruption Hurt Economic Competitiveness in
LatAm” pointed out:
"It comes as little surprise that crime and
corruption appear to be holding back economic
competitiveness in Latin America.” He sup-
ports the call by many law makers and experts
for "a nuanced and holistic approach to tack-
ling the economic impacts of illicit activities."
In that sense, what we need is not a one-
size-fits-all or cookie-cutter approach to
crime but a sophisticated and multi-faceted
strategy against the different types of criminals
and those, including the police and politicians,
who both support and depend on them. The
"underground" economy from drugs, prosti-
tution, protection rackets and other criminal
activities does not contribute to the compet-
itiveness of a country but reduces it.
As corruption increases, the work ethic and
productivity fall because people no longer need
to work hard to earn money or keep jobs. In
T&T, the situation is compounded by the
make-work, free-money projects run by the
Government which are famous for "ghost" em-
ployees and gang- or "Community"- leaders
In 2012, Transparency International's Global
Perception of Corruption Index ranked T&T
at 80 out of 174 countries.
In 2013, the country slid to 83; in 2014 it
reached 85; in 2015 it actually rose to 72 but
last year, 2016, it plummeted to 101.
When taken together with its rise to No 10 on
the crime table and fall to 94th in the compet-
itiveness ratings it is clear that in this country,
crime, corruption and competitiveness are all
linked, perhaps inextricably.
So what caused the drop in crime in the
United States and other countries?
Generally, the crime rate drops when the
economy gets better, and rises when it sours.
This may explain the situation in Trinidad
where the prescriptions and best practices
for dealing with a recession have been large-
ly ignored including reducing, instead of
increasing, taxes; putting more money into
circulation, especially for infrastructural
projects; supporting local investment; en-
couraging foreign investment; and ensuring
that productivity measures are in place and
The Economist cites the Nordic countries
(Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Swe-
den) as the best governed in the world and has
highlighted approaches in their management
of economic and crime issues that have been
These include small differences or gaps be-
tween the rich and poor; cohesive and coop-
erative communities; a strong social security
network that helps to reduce crimes of desper-
ation; and an extremely high focus on finding
and punishing perpetrators of serious crime.
Unlike the police in T&T, those in the Nordic
countries never give up. If they believe that
spending 10 man-years on catching a single
murderer or rapist will lead to success, they
can, and will, do so.
In 2012 there were 383 murders. In 2016,
there were 463 murders. The solution or com-
pletion rate by the police averaged about 15
per cent. Excluding domestic crime, the rate
is about 11 per cent or less. In the first 25 days
of 2017, as the recession deepened, there were
Unemployment has increased but so, too,
have wages for the workers in the govern-
ment-managed petroleum sector who are
already the highest-paid employees in the
There have been no serious attempts to
insist on and implement productivity and
performance targets even in the make-work,
free-money government projects. Howev-
er, direct and value added taxes (VAT) have
increased. The middle-class, those whose
salaries pass through the tax net, is being so
deeply driven into the valley of debt they may
soon disappear altogether.
Small businesses are shutting down. The
government-owned Petrotrin will be privatised
if a buyer is found who is naive and wealthy
enough to pay the huge sums earned by, and
owed to, the highly inefficient labour force at a
time when world-market oil and gas prices are
extremely low and may get even lower.
Given the link between crime and competi-
tiveness, the increase in corruption and mur-
ders, the decrease in productivity and work
ethic, it is evident that when the next global
competitive report comes out, T&T will have
even more bad news. It might still be possible
to reverse the fall the way the United States did
in the five year period 2012-2017.
However, this will be extremely difficult, if
not impossible, if the same people continue to
do the same things, the same way and while
the money drains out of the Central Bank and
forensic audits become the norm, the bodies
continue to pile up at the Forensic Centre.
The T&T Chamber thanks Anthony Deyal for his
contribution of this article.
QUICK FACTS CRIME:
(NUMBEO Crime Statistics)
• In 2012, T&T was not in the top 75.
• Venezuela, South Africa, Puerto Rico, Ma-
laysia and the United States were the top 5.
• In 2017, Venezuela remains at No 1 but
the other four at the top are Papua New
Guinea, Honduras, South Sudan and South
Africa (down to fifth place from second) in
the five-year period. T&T is at number 10.
• Puerto Rico is in eleventh place (down
from third) and the United States, Number
5 in 2012, is in 53rd place.
• In 2012-2013, when the US was fifth in
the crime “hit” parade it was seventh on
the Global Competitiveness Index.
• This year, 2017, the US is No 3 on that
index and 53 on the crime charts.
• Switzerland and Singapore were first
and second on the Competitiveness Index
in both periods.
• In terms of crime, Switzerland was at 64
out of 75 countries in 2012 and 115 from
out of 125 in 2017.
• For the same periods, Singapore was 69th
and 124th respectively and almost at the
bottom of the global crime chart.
• In 2012 there were 383 murders in T&T. In
2016, there were 463 murders, an increase
Other sources including the
Trinidad Express and
Police Complaints Authority (PCA)
• In 2010, the police killed 49 people, in 2009
and 2014 they killed 46. Between 2000 and
2011, police killed 256 people.
• In 2015 the police were investigating 45
The actual Police Complaints Authority
(PCA) statistics show that in 2012 it in-
vestigated 22 fatal shootings, 16 non-fatal
shootings, four deaths in police custody and
two attempted murders.
Between October 1, 2014 and September
30, 2015, the PCA received 230 allegations
of criminal behaviour involving the police.
These included seven fatal and four non-fa-
tal shootings, 7 murders and 90 assaults,
16 larceny and 11 for misbehaviour in public
Quick facts: Corruption
(Transparency International Global Perception
Of Corruption Index)
• 2012: Ranked at 80 (out of 174 countries)
• 2013: Ranked at 83
• 2014: Ranked at 85
• 2015: Ranked at 72 (an improvement of
• 2016: Ranked at 101(a drop of 29 places)
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