Economist Hayden Blades says the economy has been in decline since 2009 so there must be less dependency on Government handouts. He was speaking at a seminar, titled “Governance and the Economy”, hosted by the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ), at the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union’s Paramount Headquarters, San Fernando, on Sunday. Giving an overview, Blades said: “When we look at the picture in 2009, 2010, the economy contracted and it contracted again in 2011, yet everybody debating whether we are in a recession. “Call it what you want — recession, slump, regression — the fact of the matter is the economy is not generating income growth. “The economy is declining so the bottom line is your purchasing power is declining.”
Blades added that T&T is stuck in a cycle of “boom and bust. “We cannot talk about economic transformation unless we talk about political transformation. We need to convert economic activity that encourages creativity,” Blades said. He noted all communities must work together to ensure their members were not dependent on Government handouts. Political analyst and newspaper columnist Michael Harris said the media were too focused on profit-making rather than nation-building. Saying colonial institutions were a hindrance to good governance, Harris said without a system of governance T&T would never have good government.
“A system of governance does not guarantee good government. It doesn’t matter how brilliant men are, how much money we have, we will never have good government if we don’t change the colonial institutions which exist,” Harris said.
He also noted that people must trust the Government enough to give it enough time and space to apply its solutions. “However, this trust will only happen if they know in the process of decision-making they were given a reasonable chance to be heard,” Harris said. He said the Government could not run the country unless people were involved in the decision-making process. On transparency, Harris said the media were of utmost importance. However, he thought that “the press in T&T are in corporations which are looking to make a profit. “In T&T, all of us looking to eat a bread. None of us can survive without the handouts and subventions of central Government. We must defend the public’s freedom but don’t think they don’t have their own agendas,” Harris said. He recommended that state-owned CNMG be converted into an independent media house, funded by subventions from Government and its own profits. “They can be feeding people with real information, not just data and numbers. There must be analysis because this is the bedrock of a system of governance,” Harris said.
Harris said he supported internal self-government in Tobago.