Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 31st 2013 Contents REVENUE SHORTFALL SHOWS
NEED FOR DIVERSIFICATION
Tuesday, December 31, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
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Be thankful for mercies shown
Iknow that the oil spill is very bad and lots of residents in
that area are very frustrated because of the disaster it
caused. I can't say who should be blamed, but I am sure that
a proper investigation will be done and things will come back
Who knows if they will be compensated? I know it is the
Christmas season and residents could not prepare their tra-
ditional Christmas lunches due to the spill and cleaning up.
I read where Petrotrin provided lunches for residents living
in the area but they were upset because of the kind of
lunches given to them. Come on people, you all need to be
thankful for the little things, so many people did not have
anything to eat right here in Trinidad on Christmas day.
It is a sad thing that happened. The rest of the country is
sympathetic with every one of you, but despite all of this you
have enough to tell God "thanks" because no lives were lost
in this disaster. Look what happened to the people up the is-
lands on Christmas day.
A storm caused havoc leaving people dead and still the
death toll is expected to rise. We need to be grateful for
small blessings and stop complaining.
You all can still cook, bake your Christmas stuff when all
the clean up is over. Others are in worse condition than you,
endless people are in sorrow, and grief during this Christmas
season. That is the reason you all should bless the Lord. The
Bible said in everything give thanks, whether good, or bad.
Because God is good and he is a help in time of trouble.
Thank him for his goodness and mercy. He kept everyone
of you and your family from harm, and danger, so each of you
owe him a "Thank You."
Latest Petrotrin's low margins
issue highlights acute need to di-
versify our economy.
This latest development with
Petrotrin where they say that due to
higher capital costs, and threats
from reduced margins the net im-
pact is where they need to sell their
product at $9, but can only get
$6.60---a shortfall of 26 per cent.
What impact do you think these
reduced margins will have on their
ability to employ their current em-
ployees? What about all the 'sup-
port' companies to whom Petrotrin is
their major customer, what happens
to their business' and their employ-
ees? Additionally, Petrotrin is either
the 3rd of 4th largest contributor to
government's revenue, what hap-
pens when their payments to central
government falls short? What hap-
pens to the URP & CEPEP pro-
grammes, government employees,
CDAP programme, payments to pen-
Do you think that because we are
doing more drilling currently that this
will save us? Is this a short-term or
Shouldn't we instead be seriously
be looking at all the viable options to
diversify our economy? Where we
get to the point where our economy
is based on four legs ('legs' being
types of businesses which generate
their own foreign exchange). This
way if there is a shortfall in any one
area, it doesn't torpedo our economy
as may currently occur with
Petrotrin. Coming up with these 'four
legs' to better support our economy
would take sustained and dedicated
effort---the kind of effort which went
into the 2020 Vision Statement,
where several key sectors of our
country have to be stakeholders in
this process. This process may take a
year or two to hammer out, then
maybe three years to implement.
This is not a sprint but a marathon.
The Petrotrin situation shows us we
need to start NOW rather that pro-
crastinate any further.
Some recommendations for these
'four legs' are:
A ship repair facility. With the
opening up of the Panama canal in
2015 with a huge increase in the vol-
ume of cargo flowing through this
canal, if we have a viable 'ship repair'
facility here instead of somewhere in
the Far East, then these ship owners
will have a much faster turnaround
time in getting their ships back to
Medical tourism. Given the new
'Obama care' insurance in the US, the
cost of medical care for the middle
and higher income brands in the US
will become more expensive. This
represents an opportunity for us to
create joint ventures with surgeons
in the US to perform surgeries in
T&T with new hospitals dedicated to
serve this US clientele.
Chocolate sector: Think T&T cur-
rently exports 600 tons of chocolate
per year. European chocolatiers say if
we can product 36,000 tons per year
they would purchase all.
This is a huge demand, and I am
sure we can find a way to get these
European chocolatiers to inject some
of the funding necessary to get
these cocoa estates going.
Knowledge based sector. There is
already the IFC initiative being un-
dertaken by government, which is
good, but this process needs to be
driven deeper and faster eg medical
transcriptionists, engineering help
Bottomline, unless we get out of
our comfort zones with our contin-
ued dependence on the oil & energy
sectors---which Petrotrin is currently
showing is under threat---we will end
up with serious financial problems as
a country. Just look at what has hap-
pened to Barbados' once envied
tourism industry. They never in-
vested the time in diversifying their
economy and are now forced to fire
And, all key players---business sec-
tor, unions, government---have to
take responsibility for this change...
..none of this passing the buck non-
sense. The boat called T&T will all fall
or rise with the same 'economic' tide.
We have to stop our economic im-
maturity and get this change started.
Do you prefer to get fired, or to be
Generally, driving on the roads of To-
bago nowadays is characterised by
1. Excessive speeding which exceeds
the legal speed limit.
In this regard one hears it said, for ex-
ample, that the Claude Noel Highway---a
single-lane directional road---requires,
and indeed demands what are assumed
to be "highway speeds."
2. What appears to be competition in
using high beams unnecessarily at
night---a most dangerous practice along
the predominantly winding and narrow
roads on the island, (apart from the
3. Many vehicles appear not to meet
the requirements and specifications es-
tablished by the competent authorities.
This can lead to fatal accidents and must
be addressed forthwith.
4. Generally, a lack of courtesy, good
manners and moreso, consideration for
fellow-motorists and pedestrians.
5. A relatively high percentage of
"bumpy" roads which clearly do not meet
acceptable standards and will certainly
be a contributory factor to high vehicle
maintenance costs. Is the Treasury being
short-changed and given a "six-for-a-
nine" by incompetent or unscrupulous
While this letter is directed to motor-
ing in Tobago in particular, I am quite
clear that the above observations are to
a much larger extent applicable to mo-
toring in Trinidad.
My reason for singling out Tobago is
intended to demand of the authorities a
complete "no tolerance" policy in rela-
tively small Tobago in 2014, with a view
to its having a "demonstration effect"
throughout the whole of Trinidad and To-
Errol OC Cupid
NEW YEAR'S LUNCH
'No tolerance' for bad driving
A woman watches over
turkeys in the village of
Baldushk, ten miles from
the capital Tirana, Albania,
yesterday. AP PHOTO
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