“Trinidad and Tobago,” I patiently repeated for the second time.
“What?” She frustratingly retorted.
Planning Minister Dr Bhoe Tewarie says T&T is lagging behind many of its regional neighbours in terms of competitiveness. “We are not doing as well as we should given our per capita income because we are not productive as we need to be compared with some other countries,” he said.
“Barbados is doing better than us. We are about where Jamaica is. Most of the countries of Latin America have been moving up in the system and we need to move up in a serious way. It means we have got to address the issues of productivity and innovation.”
Tewarie spoke to the media following a preparatory meeting for the V111 Americas Competitiveness Forum T&T 2014 at the Hilton Hotel and Conference Centre, St Ann’s. He said they were finalising the agenda for the forum which will bring business, government and labour, civil society and academia together to discuss competitiveness and productivity. He warned that there will serious consequences if T&T does not improve on productivity.
“It means that we will sell less goods in the export market. It means we are not going to have sectors in which we can compete with other countries. It means our businesses are going to be very limited in terms of where they are going to sell. It means in terms of ranking in the world we will keep falling back. The competitiveness issue and innovation issue is important for us,” he said. Dr Tewarie said there is an opportunity for T&T to become more competitive.
“We have just moved up in the competitive group in terms of countries which means more is expected of us, so the challenge of doing better is harder for us in T&T but we are committed to making the country as competitive as possible,” he said. The he said local companies and other sectors need to be more creative.
“Our public sector must also be more creative, our general approach in terms of the country’s development should be creative and innovative to achieve sustainable development. Right now we are working on an innovation policy for the country. We will go out for consultation soon for that,” he said.