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T&T moves up in global competitiveness

Published: 
Thursday, September 4, 2014
Energy and Energy Affairs Minister Kevin Ramnarine, right, shakes hands with executive director of the Unit Trust Corporation of T&T, Ian Chinapoo. At centre is as executive director of the Planning Ministry’s Economic Development Board, Dr Rikhi Permanand. The three men were at yesterday’s national release of the Global Competitiveness Report 2014 at the Yara Auditorium, Arthur Lok Jack Graduation School of Business, Mt Hope. PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR

T&T has moved up three places in the latest Global Competitiveness Report, rising from position 92 to 89 out of 144 countries. Balraj Kistow, a member of the faculty of the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business, unveiled the latest rankings in a presentation at the school’s Mount Hope campus yesterday.

“T&T is well ahead of the other countries in the region in terms of how it has performed. We are competing against the very best. We are seen in the world as one of the most developed economies and we have been placed in the category of an innovation driven economy. “We have lots of strong competitive advantages such as judicial independence and the macro economic environment,” he said. Switzerland tops the latest global rankings followed by Singapore, while Guinea is at the bottom of the 2014 list.

The report assesses the competitiveness landscape of 144 economies, providing insight into the drivers of their productivity and prosperity. It is regarded as the most comprehensive assessment of national competitiveness worldwide. The latest report says that the most problematic factors in doing business in T&T are inefficient government bureaucracy, corruption and poor work ethic.

The improvement in T&T’s ranking was welcomed by Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine who said the rankings were an important tool used by policy makers and governments to guide economic policy. He noted that T&T has very strong macro economic metrics such as low unemployment and low inflation. “We have been able to achieve a low level of unemployment and the lowest ever recorded of 3.7 per cent. We have also been able to keep unemployment low at four to five per cent. 

“We now have in excess of US$5 billion in the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund (HSF) and this contributes to the robust macro economic environment which allows us to have pretty strong expenditure in health, education and national security,” Ramnarine said. The minister cited recent examples of Government's expenditure on infrastructure and social services, including the children's hospital in Couva and plans for new hospitals in Sangre Grande, Arima and Point Fortin. 

He also said there has been “tremendous progress” in higher education and training and boasted that T&T now has some of the best skills in the energy sector globally. “There are now more T&T nationals moving outside the country with their skills than those from outside working in T&T. This is a reverse of the situation we had in the 1970s and 1980s. We have some of the best energy talent in the world and there are nationals of the country all over the world,” he said.

The Global Competitiveness Report said bureaucracy is one of the main inhibitions to doing business in T&T. Ramnarine said: “The T&T Government has piloted the Procurement Bill which will bring change in governance and once passed, it will improve that ranking.” Admitting that “there is still a lot of work to be done” the minister added: “There are a lot of good things and challenges that the Government has to meet.”