By STEVE ALVAREZ DPTT Political Leader
If common sense was common, the next General Election in Trinidad & Tobago would be determined by one major issue. That is, who has the best plan for the economic recovery and long-term survival and prosperity for Trinidad & Tobago. Everything else crime, constitutional reform and governance structure among the many can only be addressed if there is funding for the basic survival and maintenance of the State. One can argue that common sense is not common. If it were then there would not have been the replacement of water coolers with cool clean free water in our offices and public spaces with expensive bottled water that has a negative effect on the environment.
In Trinidad & Tobago the economic model of both the PNM and UNC and many of the political aspirants are similar. In summary it is this. An economic structure that sees almost total dependence on oil and gas although the Nation has no control over the exploration or extraction of the product. Additionally, the Nation has no control over the market or the investors in the sector. In other words, Trinidad & Tobago’s main source of income is totally out of the hands of the government. On the expenditure side the major parties’ economic plans sees the continuance of paying an inefficient and outdated public sector and enter numerous public projects that are tremendously over priced (perhaps as much as ten times the market rates), a social work program (CEPEP & URP) that belittles the social standing of the participants while offering no job security and offers very little in term of infrastructure development and maintenance. All of this is anchored in a culture of allegations of corruption, nepotism and cronyism.
T&T needs a model that seeks food security and spending and public spending free from corruption
The Democratic Party of Trinidad & Tobago and many of the patriotic third parties see a totally different approach to the economy. To many, the reliance on one sector of the economy for real income (foreign exchange) is unsustainable. The new economic model must see a combination of new areas as standard sectors for income. These will include:
• Tourism, where Trinidad & Tobago has a plethora of opportunities that can make the island a leader for tourist arrivals in the Caribbean.
• Agriculture, where exotic crops can be produced for export and rum can be renewed through structured modern cultivation of sugar cane to meet the demand for real Trinidad & Tobago rum.
• Marine services, where our calm western coast can facilitate a variety of services to the international shipping industry in ports outside of the hurricane belt.
• Manufacturing, where the talents and education of our people can place Trinidad & Tobago among the nations of manufacturers that produce quality products at international standards.
• Sports, where our facilities can attract international competition.
• Cultural events and the steel pan, where our cultural events can be marketed along with the steel pan to a world that continues to be amazed by our carnival and the steel pan.
The choice for the next general election will be the continuance of an economic model that is vulnerable to external sources in such a way that events like the corona pandemic can see the nation struggling to feed its population; or a model that seeks food security and public spending free from corruption. A DPTT and third party’s option will see a restructured public service where efficiency is paramount, a restructured local government model where temporary employment under the CEPEP URP model is replaced with permanent jobs within the community. Such new vision and direction is not possible if the people continue to vote for the PNM or UNC in their