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Riley: T&T should reduce role of state
Robert Riley, former president of bpTT, has called on the state to reduce its involvement in the local economy and allow the private sector to carry out many of the functions the State now carries out.
Riley, who is now the Group head of safety and operational risk, culture, competency and capability BP PLC in London told a luncheon of the Trinidad Chamber of Industry and Commerce that the state was involved in too many things and the private sector should be given more opportunities: “Given the fact that the private sector has matured, it has larger capabilities of larger scale. They have lots of capital.
If the state were to remove itself from some of the things it now does, that would present opportunities to the private sector to invest in ways that maybe the state couldn’t, to bring skills the state couldn’t and to mobilise in ways the state can’t.”
Riley told an audience that included Planning Minister Dr Bhoe Tewarie and Agriculture Minister Vasant Bharath that the Government should ensure that the private sector got into the full life cycle of projects and pointed to the example of road construction in which the private sector would not only build the road but also maintain it. He also said there are places where even the prisons are run by the private sector.
“There are many things that state enterprises do now that arguably we really don’t need with a mature private sector. You don’t need the state to be involved for those activities to take place and so why not the state remove itself from those and allow the private sector to come in an provide their skills that would then remove some of the inertia that I have a sense that people are feeling and maybe restore come much needed confidence and opportunity in a safe way for some of the businesses.” Riley told the Chamber luncheon.
He said this should also extend to the energy sector and to Petrotrin. He said the company should have private sector investment. Riley said: “I believe there are some parts of Petrotrin’s oil production base that would probably be better run and operated if it were in the hands of a private sector participant who have particular capability at that point of maturity to produce the oil that’s there.”
He admitted that his views on Petrotrin may create controversy but said it was one that he has held for some time and suggested that the company could do a lot more with the lease operatorship/farmout programme. In a wide ranging speech, the energy executive said T&T had a race problem that threatened the long term sustainability of the country.
He warned: “Race has been with us since the very beginning of independence and I think we have paid lip service to some of the issues that have to be addressed. We are almost in denial that we have a race problem in this country and we do, and I think it is getting in the way, it is creating a cleavage that is not necessary if we want to create a long term sustainable society.”
He said no one race or persuasion had all the answers to the country’s problems and urged for a new tri partied approach to tacking with the challenges the country face. Riley also called for a shared vision for the country where there is maximum buy in and insisted that the Patrick Manning government’s vision 2020 plan had a lot of good work in it.
“I think there is a lot of good work that sits in the details of the 2020 vision what I think we failed to do really was to establish a common shared vision that was owned by enough people,” said Riley.
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