(Trinidad Guardian) The Economic Development Board is an important initiative in the restructuring of the economy of T&T says Mary King, Minister of Planning, Economic and Social Restructuring and Gender Affairs. “Our Government, the Ministry of Planning and Ministry of Finance welcome you on the board as the private sector partner to implement the restructuring process of the economy. You have a diverse set of experiences and talents in crafting this economic transformation we have spoken off for the last 50 years,” she said.
She was speaking yesterday at the installation of the Economic Development Board and the granting of instruments to four of its members at the Ministry of Planning, Economic and Social Restructuring and Gender Affairs, Eric William’s Financial Building, Port-of-Spain. The chairman of the Board is Ken Gordon, a retired business executive. The other members are UWI economics lecturer, Dr Sonja Teelucksingh, Neal&Massy’s director of energy, Bruce Mackenzie and lecturer Aiyegoro Ome.
Two other members will be announced shortly, said King.
The core mandate of the newly established board is to play an advisory and implementation role in the strategic management of the economy, which will be facilitated by Government funding. She said the “plantation economy” is petroleum based and presents risks to T&T’s economic development. The reason for this is the economy falls into two sectors which are the on-and-offshore sectors. The off-shore sector is mainly gas based and only employs four per cent of the workforce, 52 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 95 per cent of the foreign exchange in the last boom. She added that the on-shore sector recycles Government spending and energy sector revenue in mainly trading. “We also have a small manufacturing sector which is limited to Caricom,” she said. King added that businesses in T&T do not take enough risk. “In T&T, our plantation economy offers the private sector a good living with little risks in a traditional boom-spend-bust cycle, as long as the petroleum resources last and are demanded by the world market,” she said.
Chairman Ken Gordon said to an extent local businesses are risk adverse but gave the example of businessman Lawrence Duprey who approached him during the 1980s when he (Gordon) was a Government minister about the idea of venturing into methanol when world prices were still low. “He explained that the business of methanol was cyclical. “The bottomline is by the time he had entered the business, the price of methanol had swung up and his business was transformed. “There was nothing risk adverse about that. After that other industries began to creep into the heavy industry business,” he said.