Editorial

A Discouragement to Diversification

A Discouragement to Diversification

As the price of petroleum remains depressed on the world market, oil dependent nations continue to reel under pressure. Venezuela is the most glaring example of a nation suffering untold hardship.

With its economy near complete collapse, its people are fleeing in droves as they are forced to live without basic necessities like electricity, water, food and toiletries. It’s an example of an economy that has never diversified because oil has always supported it satisfactorily. Much like Trinidad and Tobago.

Many have asked the question over the last several months… why aren’t we taking urgent steps to broaden our base? Why isn’t the government encouraging new business and offering incentives to expand our economy and relieve pressure on the system down the road?

Well we would like to offer a few answers to that question today. In the first instance, we aren’t much different to Venezuela when it comes to attitude to business. Oil is king and that we shall live off of. We don’t need agriculture or tourism or anything else.

Secondly, our state of affairs is not set up to encourage business growth. What seems routine is the opposite, in that, it’s difficult to get anything done in this country particularly to establish and run any type of new business. Even the smallest of a transaction has become monumental.

Ever tried visiting the Licensing Office? Some visitors to our radio station told us recently how difficult of a time they were having in getting the local cruise industry afloat. From several unexplained charges and vague regulations that seem to change from person to person, it almost seemed that the system was against new forms of business taking root.

Here we have a new venture that leans heavily on the local food, business and labour sectors for support yet we discourage its growth with red tape and rhetoric. Did you know that a cruise ship is not allowed to operate between Trinidad and Tobago only? We didn’t either.

And this is just one example. We could only imaging how many more start-ups are getting the shaft out there from those who should be offering support. This government is strategically poised to make an indelible mark on the economy of Trinidad and Tobago if it acts astutely.

It has the opportunity at present to do what no other administration has done and carve a path for new businesses to thrive and relieve the burden of leaning as heavily on oil, especially during a recession. All eyes are on the Cabinet.

Let’s see whether they are truly in favour of diversification or just blowing hot air like their predecessors.

103FM’s Editorial is aired weekdays 7:30am and 6:08pm

Amrit Maharaj

May 19th, 2016

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