At last, economy in good hands
After listening to Larry Howai, our new Minister of Finance and the Economy, deliver the national budget for 2013, I was quite cheekily tempted to stare into the face of the PNM and say "talk nuh?"
Resisting the temptation, I believe on this occasion I was guided by far more important matters; the fact that Trinidad and Tobago's economic performance has been and continues to be stellar in the face of widespread uncertainty in the world economy.
Clearly, the economic fundamentals have been nailed down and Trinidad and Tobago is set to soar to heights perhaps never seen before. It's now easy to remember the tagline — performance beats old talk every time.
Notwithstanding the merchants of doom and gloom in the Opposition who mercilessly wrung their hands and called fire and brimstone down on the economy, the budget has made clear that they were actually facing their worst nightmares, trying hard to wish away the realities of the real performance of the People's Partnership Government.
A cursory glance at the performance sees economic growth in the wake of the decline brought about by the PNM's irresponsible fiscal policy; we see the highest foreign reserves in our history; we see more exploration activity in energy with the best deep water round in almost two decades and over $20 billion in direct investments in the sector expected in 2013.
We see an aggressive infrastructure development programme matched by a push into a new kind of public policy — the public private partnership or 3P approach.
We see an increase in private sector credit, itself a testimony to the growing confidence in the local economy and the fact that the private sector has finally summoned the courage to take the lead in an increasingly welcoming free market economy.
We see a host of incentives from agriculture to light manufacturing and tourism and a massive injection into the PSIP of $7.5 billion.
We see a new aggression in diversification with a mission to achieve over 60 per cent of GDP being accounted for by the non-energy sector.
What is clear is that the Trinidad and Tobago economy is entering into a new boom cycle and thankfully we have a Government in place that is not enamoured of quick and free money, but has demonstrated the ability to spend it as well as make it!
My confidence is renewed and I believe that congratulations are in order for Mr Howai and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar. We're out of the woods now and things are on the up!