“We the people of Trinidad and Tobago respect the principles of social justice and therefore believe that the operation of the economic system should result in the material resources of the community being so distributed as to subserve the common good” - Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago
How can the local economy be diversified?
An enabling environment will be created to ensure all other sectors of the local economy are viable and are able to contribute meaningfully towards our nation’s revenue and towards the generation of sustainable employment. The process of economic diversification will have the following elements:
A vibrant local manufacturing sector
The local manufacturing sector will be supported to allow it to produce goods with which our citizens can comfortably satisfy their needs, and which T&T could also sell on the international market.
There is significant potential in the market for cultural products, as our innate creative imagination and rich history give us a natural advantage. There is tremendous possibility for a strong sector to be developed around the production of unique products which emerge from our cultural imagination. This particular sector will be based on linking our culture with our creative imagination. A number craft, gourmet food and fine art products can be sold at premium prices in niche markets abroad.
This is an important sector to our economy and the strength of the local agricultural sector is inextricably linked to national food security and also the health and nutrition of our citizens. The MSJ will ensure that there is sufficient allocation of land for agricultural purposes, allowing our farmers to be able to sustain themselves and their families. Additionally, as the sector is developed opportunities for sustainable employment will emerge within this sector. With an increase in food production T&T will be able to reduce our food import bill and therefore reduce the outflows of foreign exchange.
The tourism sector will be improved, taking full advantage of our nation’s natural resources and cultural richness to make this sector into a key economic driver. Encouragement will be given to culturally sensitive, community based, and environmentally sustainable tourism which maximises local inputs.
International Trade for Mutual Benefits
An MSJ government will strengthen regional trade, geared towards boosting the regional economy. We will work towards full implementation of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy as well as pursuing avenues of integration and cooperation which would promote growth and development of our Caribbean economies.
Furthermore, as opposed to focusing trade efforts on traditional markets of the North, in our view there is tremendous trade potential in the neighbouring countries of Central and South America which ought to be maximised.
We recognise that despite their significant deficiencies, these programmes are a major source of employment for many citizens. However, in its current form this employment is not sustainable and fosters a very harmful dependency syndrome.
In order for these programmes to become major sources of sustainable employment which would instil these workers with an appreciation for the discipline of work, we propose that these programmes become converted into Community Cooperatives.
These cooperatives would then be responsible for undertaking specific community projects. By becoming involved in community based projects, a sense of ownership and a spirit of community empowerment would be fostered- both of which would go a long way in tackling certain social ills which presently plague our nation.
It is a fact that corruption destroys a great amount of national revenue- through corruption monies which should be used for public expenditure are diverted to private individuals. Therefore in order to ensure that all public money is used for public projects, corruption must be eliminated. Furthermore, corruption increases the cost of doing business- making T&T less competitive. Our anti-corruption plan has been outlined in the Governance section.
Improving National Tax Collection
Taxes represent the largest source of revenue for any government. At present in Trinidad and Tobago a significant portion of taxes (i.e. national revenue) go uncollected. Revenue collection agencies (Customs and Excise Division and the Board of Inland Revenue) will be made more efficient so that all revenues which are due to the government are captured. This reform process is also connected to a wider process of public service reform. Within the process of improving tax collection, priority will be placed on ensuring compliance and establishing mechanisms for the prosecution of those who fail to pay their taxes. As tax collection is improved, the government’s tax revenues will increase and in turn, the need for borrowing and ultimately the level of national debt will decrease
Mobilising Domestic Resources
At present there is excess liquidity in the local financial system. This excess liquidity represents funds that could be channelled towards activities to stimulate economic growth. The establishment of a National Development Fund will constitute a pool of resources available for injection into the local economy and the excess liquidity in the system represents a potential source of resources available for investment into this fund.
The resources within the NDF will be administered by a broad based government body which works around issues related to the economy. Additionally, national consensus on the allocation of resources from this fund will be attained, consistent with our strategy of citizen participation in economic decision-making. Infrastructure projects at the community level (e.g. roads and drainage would be amongst the type of projects which will be financed from this fund).
National Planning- citizen participation in Economic Decision-Making
A clearly defined process of National Planning is required to ensure that the nation’s economy is managed in a manner to allow for maximum benefit to be derived for all citizens. This process of national planning will be broad-based and participatory allowing for the involvement of all citizens in policy making and the management of our patrimony.
As established in the section on Governance, citizen participation is essential for the MSJ. This is especially important in the context of the national economy because each citizen is an economic actor in their own right, and therefore must have an opportunity to participate in decision making process around issues related to the economy.