Vice President of the American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago (AmCham) Hugh Howard, yesterday expressed concern about the latest statistics for T&T's economy. "The budget for 2011 to 2012 represented our largest budget expenditure to date, of which $7.6 billion was deficit financing. The Government has subsequently gone back to Parliament to ask for an additional $2.2 billion. "We at AmCham are very concerned these indicators are not positive and we believe that the Government's injection of funds into the economy must be carefully managed and must be part of a sustainable plan towards development." He was speaking yesterday at the opening of AmCham's monthly seminar on the economy at the Hilton Hotel, St Ann's.
Howard stated that the economy needs to be diversified. "We note that the economy remains dependent on oil and gas and we see very little progress towards diversification. AmCham repeats its call for the Government to do more towards diversification. "This year has been described by the Minster of Finance as the year of investment and we ask the Government to attract foreign direct investment into the economy and in all the productive sectors of the economy and not only the energy sector." He urged the local private sector to look to other markets. "Amcham recognises the importance of south-south trade, particularly amongst emerging market economies in Latin America. It is imperative that the Government embark on a more aggressive trade initiative.
"Closer collaboration and engagement among business, Government and labour are crucial as Government's role as facilitator must be deepened while the issues of productivity and value for money need to embraced by all parties." He added that T&T needs to move up in the international competitiveness rankings. "Urgent action is needed to ensure that the country's rating on the competitiveness scale and as a place for doing business are greatly enhanced."