The private sector must play a bigger role in driving the nation’s economy said Ryan Lewis, Director, Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA).
“The budget is read and done by the Government but the bigger question is what is the private sector doing. That is where the jobs will be, where you all are looking for. A lot of you all will want to go into new innovative businesses. So what is the private sector doing to provide more jobs for you? I believe in the last 10 years the private sector has been lazy. I think that the private sector has been dependent on the Government.”
Lewis spoke yesterday at the St Mary’s College, post-budget panel discussion held at CIC, Port-of-Spain.
He said there need to be new innovative jobs driven by technology.
“How many app developers do you think there are in the country?” he asked.
Lewis said that manufacturing is 6 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and it is the country’s future.
However, he said T&T has been losing its competitiveness and it will no longer be the business capital of the region if it continues along this road.
“T&T has always been the envy of the rest of the region. We were the business centre for 30 years. What it will take is a private sector plan supported by the Government framework.”
He said the aim is to double manufacturing output by 2025.
“The manufacturing strategy put forward by over 100 stakeholders in the industry along with consultants is centred around doubling manufacturing output. We are talking about TT$15 billion by 2025.”
He added that the world is at the stage of the 4th Industrial Revolution and manufacturing practices must be reflected by this era of global development.
He also encouraged students to use their secondary education to build their future as he said many of the other students they are in school with, they will be doing business with them one day.
Economist Dr. Indera Sagewan said that T&T has to move away from the old energy model into newer areas like wind and solar-driven energy.
“Why did the Government not go massive and provide us not with a fiscal incentive for sailor water heaters but with a serious incentive to move from traditionally generated electricity to solar-generated electricity homes at the community level?”
Allyson West, Minister in the Ministry of Finance who also spoke during the panel discussion said that the Government is playing its part ensuring that people who do not have access to computers and WiFi can access it.
“It should not be that you have to live next to a Rituals to be able to say that you can access WiFi in ‘x area.’ You should be able to get it whether you are in Moruga, Siparia, Point Fortin, Toco. So we are working on that as well as the final project, the introduction of e-government services. We should not have to lining up for hours to pay taxes and to renew your drivers’ permit,” she said.