In what can only amount to an April fools joke the Minister of Trade has trumpeted that the domestic economy is out of the recession. This statement belies the fact that we are on the wrong side of an economic slump realising GDP levels that are lower than it was roughly a decade ago. In fact when Petroleum and Chemical products which historically form part of the Energy sector are removed from the computation of Manufacturing, the sector has declined by 7.7% since 2015 (Source: Review of the Economy).
Madame Franka Costelloe-McKenzie must be congratulated for being elected to lead the TTMA. The challenges of the manufacturing sector however, are not addressed by the Minister’s assertion.
The statement of the Minister also ignores the fact that over 55,000 jobs have been lost since this PNM government has come into office. In effect the PNM has taken away potentially more jobs than those added by the government led by Kamla Persad Bissessar from 2010 to 2015.
The only positive in the economy are the energy projects put in place from 2010 to 2015 as cited by the Central Bank in their recent economic bulletins, namely TROC, Juniper etc. The repeated statements by the Central Bank on the economy speak to the proper management of energy resources from 2010 to 2015 a harvest we are now reaping from given the long time horizons in the upstream energy sector.
Recent attempts by the Prime Minister via his abrasive blame strategy to now accuse BPTT of attacking arrangements in the energy sector shows the PNM is not prepared to responsibly facilitate energy sector development. What in fact is realized is a misplaced focus on a failed Dragon Gas deal on one hand and direct involvement in gas price negotiations on the other; the latter leading to open conflicts with gas users based in Trinidad and Tobago.
Finally, the current shortfall in forex reserves with just about 8.5 months import cover means manufacturers and the rest of the economy will struggle in the foreseeable future to find forex to do business.
Nationals would be pleased to know that the United National Congress is rolling out our agenda and will facilitate wider development of the economy given our 12 key prosperity initiatives. These prosperity initiatives will result in the creation of growth poles across the length and breath of our nation.
The Manufacturing Sector which is reeling now will be incentivized to be a contributor to our economic gains under a United National Congress Government. The East West Corridor which has been hit hard by continual slowdown of economic activity since 2015 will benefit as a growth pole focusing on Renewable energy at Tamara, a Biotech manufacturing zone and Piarco will be transformed to an aero park. These key prosperity initiatives will ensure opportunities abound for jobs to be created in line with the demands of the technologically advanced global marketplace of the fourth industrial revolution.
The Far East and south east from Manzanilla to Rio Claro, Guayaguayare and Mayaro will witness the formation of a new development zone. Projects in Tourism, Agriculture and Maritime and Port development together with a highway from San Fernando to Mayaro will open the south east to untold possibilities for job creation and enterprise.