Planning and Sustainable Development Minister Dr Bhoendradatt Tewarie says the T&T economy has kicked into “growth mode” and is turning around from the decline recorded in 2012. Tewarie delivered the good economic news yesterday as he turned the sod for construction of JT Allum and Company Limited’s $500 million C3 Centre at Bremar Road, Corinth, San Fernando. The shopping and entertainment facility will be anchored by major tenants, JTA Supermarket and Movietowne.
Christopher Mack, managing director of JT Allum, said the C3 Centre will be a “state of the art, world class facility when completed in 2015.” He said the complex, which will sit on 600,000 square feet of building space and on 20 acres of land, “will deliver a unique shopping and entertainment experience to the southland.” Tewarie agreed and said the major private sector investment was a welcome signal of confidence in the economy.
“T&T has turned the corner and the economy has moved from decline to growth. The construction sector is picking up, the non-energy sectors are becoming buoyant, services are growing and diversification, slowly but surely is happening,” he said. Tewarie said in 2012 the country experienced “modest growth”and growth has been forecast to be 2.5 per cent for this year.
However, he told reporters after the ceremony: “We are not at the point where we can get the kind of growth numbers of 2008 but we have certainly moved out of decline into growth.” He said some challenges are still being experienced locally and cited the shut down of the BG and BpTT plants for scheduled maintenance, as one of them.
“Basically when they shut their plants down for maintenance it has an impact on the energy contribution to GDP and because that is the biggest contributor—that is to say energy contribution—to GDP. It does affect the growth number,” he said. He hastened to add that growth is being propelled by strides in the non-energy and construction sectors.
Tewarie also expressed confidence in Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s management of the country and her handling of the Jack Warner issue. “The honourable Prime Minister is offering very, very effective leadership in the management of this situation and I would like to do my best to support her. The country is bigger than any individual or group in the country. The nation is bigger than any section of the population or any individual the country,” he said.
Tewarie said unemployment for 2013 is estimated at 5 per cent. “In the construction sector, there are just over 100,000 construction workers in the labour force. Most recent figures put the unemployment rate in this sector at 11.8 per cent. Although this figure can fluctuate a bit during the year, this will decline this year as major construction projects get under way,” he said.
Tewarie said the C3 Centre will not only provide employment during the construction phase, but will offer permanent and sustainable employment for residents in Corinth, San Fernando and surrounding communities. The minister listed a number of construction projects earmarked to begin shortly, including the second phase of the Chagaramas Waterfront. He said on June 7 a zipline facility will be opened in Chagaramas and this will “increase the entertainment opportunities for the general public.”