Over the decades without having to invest one cent we received billions of dollars. All we had to do was agree on the level of taxation on the energy companies for extracting oil and gas from our territory. This scenario placed the economy of Trinidad and Tobago almost totally in the hands of investors, as we did not own the ships, rigs or expertise to access these resources. There was no effort to diversify the economy as other investments pale in comparison to the energy sector.
A few cents rise in the price of oil and gas translated into millions of dollars in increased income for the treasury. The impact of this one sector of the economy led us to become lazy, dependent on others for our survival and almost totally killed our innovative spirit.
With a source of income that demanded very little from us, our business sector grew into international traders that sold very little into the international market but simply imported goods and sold them at inflated prices consequently reaping huge profits. We neglected our responsibility to feed ourselves and simply imported most of our food. We almost destroyed our agricultural sector. We neglected the need for improving our infrastructure as a factor in improving our tourism and industrial sector.
Rather than improve public transportation we simply imported more and more cars to clog our already congested roads. Our politics degenerated into who can afford to pay for bigger crowds and offer more freeness rather than who possessed the vision and better plans for the development of our country. In this scenario, the basic management structure for the maintenance of law and order in our communities were neglected.
Today, as we are faced with a major decline in energy revenue while we remain saddled with dilapidated infrastructure, a failed agricultural sector and an economy almost totally dependent on foreign investment in our energy sector. Our people, used to foreign goods and food, continue to hope for more oil and gas rather than face the fact that urgent action is needed to seek alternative sources of income.
The future must see several new alternatives all working in a concerted effort to replace the income from the energy sector. With a tenor pan selling on the international market for US$1,400 (http://www.panyard.com/product-category/instruments/import-series-pans/) the private sector should work with government in setting up a state of the art pan factory aimed at exporting our national instrument.
We must immediately invest in food production, food processing and exporting exotic fruits like avocados and mangoes that are fetching high international prices. We must revitalize our cocoa plantations and convert our old sugar cane lands into pasture for livestock and cultivating other food crops. We have one of the best eco-tourism packages in the Caribbean. With some attention to infrastructure and security we can transform our rivers, caves, mountains, waterfalls and swamps into major tourist attractions. The island of Chacachacare offers opportunities for major investment into a world class marina or cruise ship complex. We have limited time to turn things around. We are in this together and everyone regardless of past politics, race or religion need to contribute to rebuilding Trinidad and Tobago.
The few misguided criminals that continue to engage our attention must be dealt with. Almost everyone in our country knows who they are, where they live and how they operate. The time has come to deal effectively with that menace. Trinidad and Tobago has no other option but to start turning things around now.
God bless our nation.