“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
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T&T is going in a deep recession from which it is not likely to recover until 2018. That was the economic forecast made by Minister in the Ministry of Finance Mariano Browne when he addressed a breakfast seminar hosted by the Human Resource Management Association of T&T (HRMATT) and the Trinidad Hilton and Conference Centre.
Browne urged participants at the seminar, which had as its theme, Finding Solutions to T&T’s Chronic Poor Work Ethic Culture, not to waste the opportunities presented by a recessionary period. “Whether it has been defined or not, we are in a recession. It is going to be a deep one,” he said.
The former minister said energy prices, which have been declining over an extended period, will “recover somewhere around 2018/2019, that’s two to three years from now” and when that recovery happens it would be at approximately 50 per cent of where prices were in mid-2014 when the decline started.
“We are talking about a level of prices in the international economy of US$50 and US$60—maybe even trending toward US$70 toward 2020, which is still 35 per cent off from the high that we are accustomed to and what we have lived on for the last five years. The reality is that we are in a crisis,” Browne said.
He said T&T is in a crisis in terms of aggregate demand.
“Aggregate demand is going to fall. There are adjustments that have to be made all across the organisations, so there is a sense of urgency because it is also going to affect oil companies. Are they going to survive which ones will?” he asked.
Browne said the most efficient companies that offer products which are high in demand will be the ones to survive the recession, along with those which are “best managed”. “The difference between success and failure is not only the product itself but the quality of the management. We have to establish a sense of urgency, we have to develop a coalition because it is a dynamic process between us and the people who work with us.” He told HRMATT members at the seminar to develop a strategy, communicate it, empower action, bring action.
Gail Merhair, managing director of GM Advertising Limited, said although a lot of money has been spent to educate young people at the tertiary level the quality of workers entering the workforce is poor as some of them can’t write a letter, or even spell properly. She added that the dress code for work is deplorable as well.
Merhair said there are too many make work programmes providing long-term employment when that type of employment is supposed to be short-term. Also speaking at the seminar was University of the West Indies (UWI) Economics lecturer Dr Roger Hosein who predicted that several changes will be made in government’s upcoming mid-year review.