Businessman Arthur Lok Jack has said the country has to find a way to pursue long-term development plans, even in the face of changing political cycles.
He was speaking at the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business, Mt Hope, on Thursday night during part one of a symposium entitled Tackling the Issues: Linking Economic Growth to Social Development".
Lok Jack described the genesis of the PNM's Vision 2020 plan that started with contributions and discussions from the heads of big oil companies like BG and bpTT, as well as local banks.
He said the key factor was to make sure the country would use its significant revenues gained from taxes from the oil companies as well as those companies' proposed investment plans.
Lok Jack said in other countries that had a 2020 plan, like Malaysia and Singapore, there was a level of consistency in terms of ruling parties over a long term.
He said states like Alabama and Ohio in the United States were also successfully installing their versions of a 2020 plan.
Trinidad and Tobago has had five changes of government in the last 26 years.
"A few of the companies took the view they would like to make sure that the revenue coming into the country would not be wasted, as had been happening in other oil-producing countries with the exception of Norway," he said, citing Nigeria and Venezuela as countries that had wasted their oil revenues.
Lok Jack said while he and other professionals completed the plan under the premise that there would be no governmental interference, he said he failed in his bid to get the United National Congress opposition of the day to buy into the plan. "I didn't do a very good job obviously to get the Opposition actually on board," he said.
"But the plan never became a national plan and the government of the day who never interfered in the plan... adopted the plan and it became a PNM (People's National Movement) plan and the (former) prime minister (Patrick Manning) was touting it all over the place... But it never went through the Parliament. Then the next government came in and the plan got put aside," he said.
Prof Miguel Carrillo moderated the event, while acting President Timothy Hamel-Smith, former president of the Caribbean Development Bank, Prof Compton Bourne and Derek Hudson, president and asset general manager BG East Africa, comprised the remainder of the panel.