Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 1st 2017 Contents JUNE 1 • 2017 guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
NEWS | BG7
Towards a brighter future
What should Trinidad
and Tobago look like
in 13 years?
Well, if the Na-
(more informally known as "Vision 2030")
finds its fulfilment by that time, according
to its Aspiration Statement, T&T would be "a
united, resilient, productive, innovative, and
prosperous nation with a disciplined, caring,
fun-loving society compromising healthy,
happy and well-educated people and built
on the attributes of self-reliance, respect,
tolerance, equity, inclusion and integrity."
Quite a lofty objective indeed!
The 116-page draft document (first made
public in August 2016) has as its focal point
five main "development goals" which, if re-
alised, would effectively catapult T&T into
developed country status.
The five pillars include:
1. Putting people first: Nurturing our great-
2. Promoting good governance and service
3. Improving productivity through quality
infrastructure and transportation
4. Building globally competitive business
5. Valuing and enhancing our environment.
To the documents credit, it acknowledges
the magnitude of the task which it has set
before the country.
"There are times in the life of a country
when extraordinary challenges demand an
equally compelling response. T&T is now at
that time as falling energy prices have exposed
the weaknesses in the economy that have been
masked by the tremendous growth and buoy-
ancy of the energy sector," the draft says.
While all development goals are given equal
coverage, two stand out with respect to creat-
ing the right economic and business climate
to foster growth and development. They are:
improving productivity through quality in-
frastructure and transportation and building
globally competitive business.
Quality infrastructure and
It's no secret that the current national
transportation system, and the infrastructural
elements that surround it are in dire need of
The daily woes of commuters who spend
hours in traffic both to and from work no doubt
affect national productivity and the mental
health of the citizenry.
Untold losses have been associated with
the ongoing disaster taking place on the lo-
To remedy these issues the vision document
lays out four strategic initiatives and several
action plans that among them include:
1. A national transport plan to meet the cur-
rent and future needs of the transport sector
2. A national transit system involving an up-
graded fleet of buses to provide mass transit
to alleviate traffic congestion
3. A travel demand reduction strategy de-
signed to incentivise the use of carpooling,
telecommuting and flexi-time
4. Modernising inter-island transport via
upgrades to the airports and seabridge (inter-
estingly, one of the objectives for the seabridge
enhancement involves the acquisition of new
On the infrastructure end, an overhaul
of the current system of public utilities has
been proposed with initiatives designed to
tackle flooding, road and bridge upgrades,
water resource management and the use of
The ease with which the objectives have
been laid out conceals their ability to be just
as easily implemented.
Again, and to their credit, the crafters of the
vision document have split the achievement
of these objectives into short, medium and
long-term time horizons: five-, ten- and 15-
year targets to be more precise.
What is plainly evident is that given the
current state of national transportation and
infrastructure, and its impact on productivity
and the well-being of the population, much
needs to be done---and quick ---if the realisa-
tion of these goals has any reasonable chance
Globally competitive busi-
Casting the mind forward to 2030, no one
can imagine what the state of the global busi-
ness environment would look like at that time.
If the current pace of technological change
holds (and in fact it is likely to intensify) it is
safe to expect greater levels of competition
across global markets as businesses seek to
capture wider and more geographically dis-
In the context of building globally compet-
itive businesses, the Vision 2030 document
lays out four strategic initiatives:
1. Maintaining macroeconomic stability
2. A business environment conducive to
3. A more attractive destination for invest-
ment and trade
4. Firms producing high value products and
services that can compete in export markets .
Operationalising these objectives involves
the rollout of several programmes such as
the establishment of an integrated financial
management information system, a national
innovation strategy and various entrepreneur-
Looking at the plans and initiatives, the no-
bility of the objectives is beyond question: to
build globally competitive business requires
a sound roadmap and an environment that is
conducive to the attainment of that objective.
The challenge, again, seems to be the re-
striction of time.
It's up for debate just how many of these
initiatives, given the current mode of doing
business, can be achieved in the 13 years left
Additionally, T&T's thrust must be seen in
another context. While we attempt to move
forward, other countries are doing so as well
and, in several instances, with a rapidity that
makes being sustainably competitive for T&T
Several top businessmen have complained
about T&T's declining competitiveness (in
terms of escalating labour, raw materials and
energy costs) and its impact on the export po-
tential of their businesses.
Falling competitiveness also affects T&T's
ability to both attract foreign direct invest-
ment and earn foreign exchange.
In an unrelenting global business environ-
ment, creating the right economic environ-
ment for productively efficient businesses to
grow and thrive is paramount.
Visions and realities
Achieving the goals set out in the Vision
2030 document requires judiciously managing
several competing interests at the same time.
Though not addressed directly here, the
document speaks to other social and envi-
ronmental development goals that factor
just as heavily in transforming the culture
and ethos of T&T
For certain, much can be achieved in 13
The harsh reality, however, is that the re-
source constraints of today and the current
economic circumstances that are likely to per-
sist over the medium term render the task an
Vision 2030 points the way
PHOTO: EDISON BOODOOSINGH
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