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 On the expenditure side the major parties’ economic plans sees the continuance of paying an ineffi­cient and outdated public sector and enter numerous public proj­ects that are tremendously over priced (perhaps as much as ten times the market rates), a social work program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
present configuration.