Anna-Lisa Paul and Bobie-Lee Dixon
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T&T unemployment down to 3.7 per cent
T&T’s unemployment rate is now 3.7 per cent. Planning Minister Dr Bhoe Tewarie said increased tertiary education and more businesses in the country have contributed to the low unemployment levels. “The participation rate of in tertiary education is 57 per cent and we want to increase that to 60 per cent by next year. Our graduation rate is 38 per cent. In 2013 we generated 2,200 new businesses,” he said, adding that “development is taking place.”
Tewarie was speaking yesterday at a forum on Driving Innovation Forward at the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business, Mt Hope. He said for development to continue, certain conditions must exist. “What is required for development are entrepreneurial experience, technical competence, the absorption of technology and the ability to generate new ideas and businesses through technology. We need to think of what we need to achieve the per capita income required and grow the Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” the minister said.
Tewarie said the main problem in T&T is bureaucracy. Although T&T is small there are other small countries that have built competitive economies, he explained.
“China has 1.3 billion people with a large production base, while T&T has 1.3 million people. We are a small country. The question does arise about small size and competitiveness. Geographical size has not limited Luxembourg. T&T has close proximity to the US and Canadian markets and historic ties with Europe,” he said. He said the trend now is for countries to work together with other countries in their region, so T&T must do more trade and business with Latin America. “The truth is the world is changing. Countries are trading and investing more and more with what is being described as their neighbourhood.
“That is why we must do trade with the countries around us. The Caricom market has become a limited market for us yet we have not engaged fully with the countries of Central America and South America as we should,” Tewarie said. He said the Antioquia region of Colombia was one of the worst in that country because of crime and social unrest but has recovered and now has a high level of development. “Some parts of east Port-of-Spain are impassable and up in the hills. How do you make them accessible? There are examples. We are going to bring the Governor of Antioquia to T&T so the Colombians can show their level of development. He transformed an entire area that was worst than east Port-of-Spain,” Tewarie said.