After listening for more than two hours to Dr Rowley’s news conference, this evening we are no better off on the specific, deliverable and measurable outcomes of Dr Rowley’s most recent visit to Saudi Arabia.
We are yet to know how many jobs will be created as a result of this visit. How many millions of Saudi Investments can we expect and in what areas? Or how our energy sector could be improved because of increased collaboration between our two countries.
Instead we were witness to “yam diplomacy” where we were promised increased food security based on a prior visit to Ghana, but as far as we know no yams seedlings have arrived.
One would have expected Dr Rowley to arrive in Saudi Arabia armed with specific and detailed business plans for financial engagements between the two countries. The visit should have explored areas of collaboration aligning our energy priorities with Aramco’s. It should also have detailed areas of investments in our tourism efforts and specified investments in TTs small and medium businesses and in our financial sectors.
Instead we were fed generalities such as “doors are now opened for investment opportunities”, that we look forward to aligning our energy sector with that of Saudi Arabia’s, and we are exploring opportunities for Saudi Arabian investments in TTs tourism thrust.
That is what we get when we are governed by an administration that has not identified TT’s priorities as a basis for diplomatic engagements. It seems blissfully unaware that the success of modern diplomacy is determined solely by measurable benefits..
Meanwhile St Vincent and the Grenadines and St Kitts and Nevis signed two developmental Memoranda of Understanding with Saudi Arabia
One involved $50 million for the rehabilitation of several pieces of infrastructure damaged by natural disasters in St Vincent and the Grenadines, and the other involved $40 million for a Power Plant expansion project in St Kitts and Nevis.
Diplomatically speaking our smaller CARICOM neighbors are miles ahead of us. They went to Saudi Arabia with targeted business plans and they reaped nearly $100 million worth of investments.
We came back, not for the first time, with our hands swinging.
Similarly, PM Mia Mottley’s engagement with Guyana for example has resulted in a massive Barbados-Guyana Food Terminal located in Barbados, which has the potential not only to provide jobs for Barbadians but also reduce CARICOM’s food import bill by 25%.
These are the kinds of diplomatic engagements which TT seems to lack under TT’s self proclaimed number one salesman. He has not yet earned his sales commission..
We expected more from our top salesman especially since he told us that, when he leaves office, his performance would have justified earning more than the TT$1.5 million in tax free, unaccountable per diems paid to him to date by taxpayers.