Howai must provide data to show T&T’s real growth
Camille Bethel firstname.lastname@example.org
Dependable statistics are needed in order to determine Trinidad and Tobago’s true growth potential, said Independent senator Dr Dhanayshar Mahabir.
Mahabir explained the importance of statistics during the 2013-2014 budget debate on Friday night and recommended that Minister of Finance Larry Howai present more dependable statistics when gauging the growth potential of the economy.
“I would have liked to see not just GDP (gross domestic product) figures, but I would have liked to see data from the legal profession. I am sure they would have been able to register all land transactions somewhere, to see how land sales and purchases have been behaving over the last year or two,” said Mahabir.
“I am talking about an index, in addition to land...I would have liked to see from the Ministry of Planning a number of housing statistics—new housing statistics and also the new statistics of industrial buildings as an index of activity in construction land and buildings, with respect to the manufacturing sector.
“It would have been good to get data from the various agencies on investment in new plants and equipment by the manufacturing sector, if we could have gotten information on the rate of utilisation of capacity. We need to look at the hard data which exists with respect to the manufacturing sector and equipment investment in machinery, investment in replacement capital, investment in inventory raw material...whether in fact there is inventory of raw material depleting at a faster rate to know how the manufacturing and the production sector is doing.”
Mahabir said a better look at the liquidity situation is also needed.
“Are we seeing financial institutions holding less and less liquidity, financial institutions finding it easier and easier to obtain qualified borrowers.
“With that data set we would have been able to determine definitively where we are with respect to the prospect of economic growth. Without that data and with growth of some one and two per cent, we do not know whether it was a statistical aberration,” he said.
Mahabir added that it needs to be recognised that the ingredients this country has for growth are not sufficient.
“What we need is to combine the ingredients and who is to combine these ingredients but our private sector, our entrepreneurial class. Our private sector must now wake from its slumber, it must recognise that the Trinidad and Caricom economies will no longer provide for it the rate of return on its capital.
“This world has changed. While we slumber, the world has become a global trading market place and our private sector must now become part of that global supply chain to supply goods internationally.
“When we speak to the Government of China and the Government of the United States, it is in fact not the best idea to get loans from them. I think what we need to do is to tell them to expose their private sector to our private sector. Our private sector firms must service their firms and we must become global if we are to achieve these acceptable rates of returns.”
He said it is the global economy that is now in charge and there are opportunities out there for this country’s private sector.
“We need to also train our young, our five-year-olds, that they must think entrepreneurial. We must teach them business. Out of every 100 five-year-olds we train, if we get five entrepreneurs we would have done well, but we must now let the next generation know that the world in which we live, which is a comfortable world, is different for them. We have to let them know and we must prepare them for the challenges of globalisation,” he said.