The National Development Agenda puts people first as the Caribbean’s leading twin islands work in unison toward a sustainable economy and enhanced quality of life
Trinidad and Tobago was founded through cooper-ation and it is through this enduring quality that the fast developing nation is becoming an outright Caribbean leader. “Together We Aspire, Together We Achieve” is the message on the nation’s coat of arms following its independence in 1962. Its 1.33 million people have taken that as a mandate, with Trinidadians on the south-sitting island off Venezuela’s northern coast, and Tobagonians, from the smaller island to the north, working together to ensure their nation prospers.
T&T is achieving continued development through the pillars of its National Development Agenda, which have helped the country become a financial capital of the Caribbean and a leader in the Caribbean Community (Caricom). Undoubtedly boosted by its wealth of oil and gas reserves, which helped T&T register a strong $27.14 billion GDP for 2013, the country also places a big emphasis on people power.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar takes great pride in the role her country’s well-qualified people are playing in their country’s development.
“The government’s overall policy agenda places people at the center of development and is based on inclusiveness. It embodies a national vision of lasting prosperity and a mission centered around prosperity for all,” she says. “In implementing this policy agenda, the government aims to create a facilitative environment for human development. It focuses on the people of Trinidad and Tobago and their development aspirations, and the strategies that allow each and every individual the opportunity for development through meaningful engagement in education, employment, arts and culture, sport, and family and community initiatives.”
|“The government’s overall policy agenda embodies a national vision of lasting prosperity and a mission centered around prosperity for all”|
Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago
Minister of Tertiary Education Fazal Karim says the government is keen to unleash the country’s human potential and has made training one of the major platforms in its policy agenda items. “Education and training will move one from poverty to prosperity,” he says.
Forward-thinking foreign policy has also been key, with the duty-free access to the U.S. market through the Caribbean Basin Initiative working to T&T’s advantage. Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Dookeran says the country is “an investment-friendly place” and its attractive location will only help continued development. “T&T is geopolitically located in the wider Caribbean context which can also open new doors to Latin America,” he says, highlighting that the Caribbean’s population of over 30 million people “is a significant purchasing power for developing countries.”
Minister of Finance Larry Howai agrees and adds that the country’s success is reflected in its results, with a growth rate of 1.6% recorded in 2013. “Generally, the international investor community, as well as the local business community, sees that the overall macroeconomics continue to remain relatively strong,” says Mr. Howai.
Bhoendradatt Tewarie, Minister of Planning and Sustainable Development, comments, “In 2012 we had about $2.5 billion in investment, mostly in energy, but about half a billion was in the non-energy sector, which for us is very important.” T&T hopes to build on this diversification, which, coupled with its people, will help give the Caribbean power every chance of making further strides forward.