The country’s economy is in much better shape now than when the Government took office in 2010, Trade Minister Vasant Bharath said yesterday. “Inflation was raging at that time. Despite what has happened to our Caricom neighbours and the developed world, T&T has seen a turn around. We experienced growth last year, we expect growth of 2.5 per cent this year. Inflation is at an all time low of five per cent.
“We are enjoying the lowest unemployment in this country’s history. We have $10 billion in external reserves and our Heritage and Stabilisation Fund is almost twice it was when we came into office,” he said in his address at the launch of the second phase pf TTBizLink’s e-services at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Port-of-Spain. Bharath noted, however, that if Government and country did not improve its efficiency T&T would not be able compete on the world stage or even at the regional level.
“We must take steps to be transformational because eventually global trade will overtake us. Global businesses will come into T&T and our local goods will suffer if we are not able to change our system,” the minister said. Also speaking at the launch was Transport Minister Stephen Cadiz who said there would be improvement in maritime services.
“By the end of this year you will see a huge improvement in the way in which maritime services operate, whether it is dealing with the management of the harbour. We have a management tracking system coming in which plays a major part in running maritime transport in T&T. We have the harbour master, we have the nav aid system that is being revamped,” he said. Cadiz said the new systems had resulted in a reduction of shipping times.
“We have moved from 45 days for a vessel to enter the port to seven days. That is telling you how much has been done. When we talk about deliverables this is what we have been able to do. We listened to the stakeholders and asked what they needed. Every single import and export has to do with filings and how we can reduce that time,” Cadiz said. He added: “This will impact on the cost of doing business in T&T. It affects market share. Efficiency breeds better earning potential.”