Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 24th 2013 Contents BG6 | NEWS
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt OCTOBER 2013 • WEEK FOUR
Productivity levels in T&T are much
higher than most people think, said
Richard Lewis, chairman, Council for
Competitiveness and Innovation
"Truthfully, if people start looking at pro-
ductivity in T&T in terms of value created per
input, productivity in T&T is not as bad as
it may appear. We are probably middle of the
road in the world and, in some cases, even
Lewis spoked about the United States and
used units of production as an example.
"The United States supposedly has a high
rate of productivity. If you measure productivity
on a value created basis in US dollars, an
American worker may come to work on time
and produce the 25 glasses he is hired
to make a day. If you apply the
cost to the value part, the
cost per unit is lower in
T&T where only 15
glasses a day can be
produced by our
although the pro-
ductivity is not
that great, we
have an advan-
tage in T&T," he
to the Business
Tower D at the
where the CCI is
The CCI falls under
the Ministry of Plan-
ning and the board is
made up of three peo-
ple from the private
sector and four from
become more competitive by improving some
of the criteria international agencies use to
"Whether it be business governance and
ethics, infrastructure and transportation, edu-
cation: these are the building blocks. If you
can move these forward by ten cent or 15 per
cent, it will lead to a more competitive society,"
T&T vs developed world
Lewsi said people make the mistake by com-
paring T&T to countries like Singapore.
"You are wasting people s time by doing
that. Get down to the nitty gritty and see what
they are doing well according to global infor-
mation. What is New Zealand doing well or
Ireland? If there is a direct link between
uncompetitiveness and corruption in contrac-
tual arrangements?" he asked.
Because of T&T s income per
2012, source tradinge-
been moved to an
my" by the
"It is only
because of our
that we have
been thrust into
egory of coun-
tries like Singa-
we did not do
anything for that. Our economy is still based
on the factors of production stage. There is
an anomaly between how the global indexes
look at us and we really are. We do not even
have a policy for innovation as yet," Lewis
Lewis said a reason why developed coun-
tries in Northern Europe are highly developed
and innovative compared to T&T is due to
"Some of those countries have harsh win-
ters where people need to be disciplined.
Others, like New Zealand, are geographically
isolated and were forced to survive on their
own. Others have a history of socialist and
right wing political parties working togeth-
er."Lewis said T&T has always had oil and
gas revenues for its citizens to live off, causing
the society not to be innovative.
"Seventy per cent of the businesses feed
off the Government. The Government is a
huge customer and it is driven by oil and
gas revenue," he said.
Lewis said his mandate is to create a further
awareness of competitiveness and innovation
in T&T and help recognise the need for diver-
sification in the national economy. He sees
competitiveness as being able to provide a
product at better value that the competitor.
"You have to be a business to be talking
about competitiveness. It is difficult for a
person to envision this if they are not in
business. Competitiveness, in a pure sense,
is if T&T can sell or provide products and
services at value better than someone else.
Whether it is in T&T or another country
like Taiwan or the United States."
"Saying T&T is competitive means T&T
can export at a better value than somebody
else or we could withstand imports coming
in and provide a better value. Competitiveness
is connected to productivity and that is the
definition we try to use for ourselves. Pro-
ductivity is probably the easiest measure of
competitiveness," he said.
Lewis also said T&T must come up with
a national strategy for competitiveness rather
than each sector seeking its own way.
"Right now we keep talking about com-
petitiveness in T&T and the Caricom
market. I think we are moving
to a point where the
awareness of competi-
tiveness has to break
out from the manu-
facturing sector or
the other sectors.
We must break
perspective," he said.
Leveraging gas and oil
He said people wrongly say T&T should
diversify away from oil when, in fact, this
is just one of the many areas to help diversify
"Our biggest asset is what we have learnt
in 100 years of oil. I am definitely not going
to say away from oil and gas because people
who say that are on the wrong track. We
have developed energy sector services that
are very saleable and easily to leverage. Serv-
ices are just a part of how we can diversify
the energy sector. Even people who are
drilling. We are just as good or better than
anyone else in the world," he said.
Lewis said T&T has the natural talent and
human resources to push this diversification
"If our natural resources are coming to an
end, by that time we should be a dominant
factor in niche markets around the world
with our engineers, our systems, our rigs,
with our workers. We have great oil workers
and experience. How many countries of this
world where you have this level of investment
into oil and gas and methanol plants? Few
countries in the world have access to this and
we need to leverage that."
Early 2014, the CCI will hold a meeting
with all stakeholders at a national competi-
"We invite academia, the trade unions, who
want to contribute, the business sector, the
political parties from all side who are serious
about discussing the national economic build-
ing," he said.
He said the CCI wants to communicate
competitiveness and innovation from the "rum
shop" level to the level of the corporate board
and political directorate.
"Al these stakeholders must buy into this
concept of competitiveness and innovation,"
He said the i2i competition is about attract-
ing people with the ability to commercialise
a new idea.
"The first part is to be able to give them
a grant, what is called proof of concept. After
the next stage is the incubator stage, which
offers support services. This allows you to
come up with a proper business plan, funding
requirements and those things," he said.
"Right now, it is driven by the Government,
but we want to reach the point where it is a
proven model when it is handed by the private
sector. So the Government will look at the grants
facility, but the private sector will run it and
put more money into incubators," he said.
T&T more productive
than people think
Chairman of competitiveness body:
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