Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 20th 2017 Contents JULY 20 • 2017 guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
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Much has been said about
the draft National
gy 2016-2030, better
known as Vision 2030.
It sets a grand goal for
what T&T should look like as a developed so-
ciety and prescribes a path to get there.
The Vision 2030 aspiration statement says
that in 2030, T&T should be a "united, resil-
ient, productive, innovative and prosperous
nation, with a disciplined, caring, fun-lov-
ing society comprising healthy, happy and
well-educated people and built on the enduring
attributes of self-reliance, respect, tolerance,
equity, inclusion and integrity."
The reality, however, is that with 13 years
left to 2030 and with T&T in the throes of its
deepest economic downturn since the 1980s,
it is difficult to see how Vision 2030, in whole
or in part, is likely to be fulfilled.
The size of the task as laid out in the docu-
ment simply appears too big.
Incidentally, though, the biggest challenge
may not, in fact, be economic.
Potentially, the greatest impediment to
achieving such a grand vision is likely to be
There is much to like about Trinidad's cul-
ture. We rank highly among the happiest coun-
tries in the world year after year.
There is, however, a dark underbelly to this
fun-loving, easy-going spirit that Trinbago-
nians are known for.
This dark side resides in the shadows of our
national watchwords (as woven in the Vision
2030 aspiration statement): discipline, pro-
duction and tolerance.
For the most part, as a society we have drifted
away from the ethos of these words.
Evidence of this and its effects manifest itself
in all spheres of business.
In terms of discipline, lawlessness in T&T
This has a profound impact on the "doing
Bribery, corruption and graft are the order of
the day in many circles simply to get anything
Here, a vicious cycle exists.
Those who benefit from such nefarious ac-
tivity keep the system going as it is.
They may complain about it, but they will
not help fix it.
With respect to production---by extension
productivity---the business community has
long suffered the ill- effects of an underpro-
Certainly, issues about productivity are
complex and usually requires understanding
the nuances of working conditions, compen-
sation and organisational structures.
That said, little room for debate exists about
how productive we are as a nation.
A licensing office that closes at noon daily,
or a port that makes expediting business ac-
tivities tiresome rather than easier, does little
for making the wheels of trade turn efficiently
Year in year out, industry players have com-
plained about these inconveniences and the
effects on their businesses, but they seem to
fall upon deaf ears.
Further, can we truly say we are
a tolerant society?
Do we support fresh ideas and
new ways of thinking and doing
Or, according to the Japanese
proverb: does the nail that sticks out get ham-
As a country, do our citizens feel empowered
to take risks and try new things knowing that
failure will be tolerated, even embraced, as a
channel through which lessons can be learned?
Answers to these questions will, ultimately,
reveal the kind of society we are.
It's easy to say our culture is broken; it's
much harder to fix it.
A good place to start would involve building
accountability into the fabric of our society
at every level.
In 2005, when former president of Georgia,
Mikheil Saakashvili, decided to rid his coun-
try's police force of corruption, he fired 30,000
officers and hired new ones.
Though extreme, the message was clear: ac-
countability would now be the order of the day.
Further, fostering productivity requires en-
suring the necessary tools are available to do
the required job.
The public service is often chided for its
lack of productivity, but are they sufficiently
resourced to accomplish anything beyond the
The Board of Inland Revenue, for example,
has for years suffered from a paucity of staff
and unreliable technology.
The output matches the fundamental re-
Politicians and economists alike love to cite
Singapore as an example of national transfor-
mation to which T&T should aspire.
While that country stands as an economic
powerhouse today, it was a commitment to
the right cultural principles that created that
level of development and prosperity.
T&T's path to transformation lies with
changing our culture; the economic and com-
mercial success will follow.
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