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Official accuses Trinidad private sector of being lazy

By Trinidad Guardian

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Ryan Lewis

(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) — 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.

TTMA director Ryan Lewis makes his presentation during the St Mary’s College post-budget panel discussion at the school yesterday.

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