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Wednesday 18 October 2017
Local

Prof Watson: TT’s oil days have ended

DIVERSIFICATION TALKS: From left: Economist Indera Sagewan Alli; budget analyst, Dr Winford James and Dr Patrick Watson, director of the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies at the University of the West Indies, panelists at yesterday’s Thought Leadership breakfast meeting organised by the Central Finance Facility of the credit union movement at the Hyatt Regency, Wrightson Road, Port of Spain.

Dr Patrick Watson, director of the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies (SALISES) at the University of the West Indies (UWI), said yesterday that the days of oil have come to an end, adding that he has no confidence that oil prices will recover and even if they do the country’s oil production is falling. “It cannot and it will not continue to play the role that it has played in the past, there is too much investment in other forms of energy, more and more products are not using hydrocarbons, they are not environmentally friendly to start with and people are finding other and cheaper sources of energy.”

Watson made the comments as a panelist at a Thought Leadership breakfast meeting entitled, “A 2017/2018 Budget Perspective: Will the Cooperative Sector Factor?” held at the Hyatt Regency, Wrightson Road, Port of Spain by the Central Finance Facility, the coordinating agency for credit unions. He also said he had little faith in the continued attraction of fossil fuels and even such large oil companies as BP had recognised that. He quipped that BP did not mean “British Petroleum but Beyond Petroleum.”

Because of all that, Watson said Government should support credit unions in introducing innovative products geared to the diversification of the economy since the Government is not in a position to finance anything itself given the state of the national economy. He said the credit union movement can do that but the Government must support the movement by granting tax concessions for new activity. He said if the activity does not take place, the credit unions will not get anything from it but if it does happen then the government should give a tax break and allow it to develop.

He said the activities he has in mind should create goods and services which could be exported. He said Government should look at this in a serious way “because the government is unable at this point in time to provide the financing of that kind of activity in the country as a whole.”

Citing a membership of about 500,000 persons suggested by one of the credit union presidents attending the meeting, Watson said this was a powerful force in the country which has a role to play. “I want to look at the credit union more as a mobiliser of funds that I want them to use to help finance the creation of ideas that will get us out of this mess that we are now in because I swear to you that this mess is not going to get better.”

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