Philip’s inaccurate view of T&T’s economic history

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Noble Philip’s Sunday Express column of September 10 (‘The Myth of Me, Myself, and I’) paints a completely specious picture of Trinidad and Tobago’s economic history.

Philip claims that, after taking command of ‘the commanding heights of the economy’ in the 1970s, the government in the 1980s pursued a ‘neo-liberal’ agenda that gutted the economy and which was based on selfish individualism, citing Margaret Thatcher’s infamous quote ‘There is no such thing as society’ to bolster his argument.

In fact, at no point since the 1960s has the government not controlled the economy, either through energy revenues, State-controlled entities, tariffs and regulations. The easing in the 1980s was only relative to this and even that resulted in economic recovery, with a particular expansion in manufacturing and agriculture (now lost).

In any case, although it has clearly escaped Mr Philip’s notice, all the developed countries that have progressed economically since the 1960s have pursued free market principles and all which remained poor have embraced the ‘commanding heights’ (i.e. socialist) ideology. As for Thatcher’s assertion, she was making the point that collectivism leads to oppression and that society is made up of individuals with their particular needs and desires – which is to say, the principle of freedom.

Elton Singh
Couva