Facing hardship since the government banned the export of lumber last year, sawmillers in south Trinidad are finding it hard to keep their businesses afloat.
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Where’s the plan, Dr Rowley?
The message was more of a “tighten your belt and hold on perhaps until oil and gas prices recover” rather than an insightful, well considered or even semi-strategised plan to fare the waters ahead.
The speech had no emphasis on diversification or novel ideas on how to enhance our predominantly single-product economy. He cowered and left all make-work, or rather, no-work programmes as is, so that Trinidad nationals can collect a pittance for doing little, while we have over 100,000 illegal immigrants working.
He plans to ramp up housing as a stimulant to the economy but that is only a recurring expenditure with no returns.
What our country needs is precisely what was ignored by Dr Rowley—investment in areas outside of oil and gas that will give us returns in a relatively timely manner. I cannot think of any sector in which this push is more appropriate and achievable than agriculture. The land is there. The climate is there. It was cultivated in the past. It can be again.
Investment in agriculture and strategies for economic incentives and stimuli to cultivate and harvest, as well as other diversification avenues, should perhaps be occupying the minds of our leaders.
The writing has been on the wall for sometime now. It would appear that Dr Rowley has been caught off-guard, or was he more interested in planning to be in government rather than planning to actually govern?