Put focus on ‘local’ in the 2018/2019 budget statement and TT will well be on its way to reducing the haemorrhage of forex out of the country, Finance Minister Colm Imbert has been advised by Vishnu Charran, president of the Chaguanas Chamber of Commerce.
“We need to focus on how we can cut the food import bill, how we can build entrepreneurs, there is also the need to engage small manufacturers with guidance and support so they can grow and blossom,” Charran said.
He added that the time has come to put greater focus on developing agriculture and agro processing industries.
“When we start to do agro processing, it means we are building ourselves up for the export market.
“There are many products being imported that we can successfully grow here.”
He fears TT can end up going to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) if it continues to depend on imported products.
He also called for greater emphasis on education.
“We need to focus on growing our own minds here. We spend a lot of money importing material for education. What we need to encourage is more local publishing locally so we don’t have to be spending money to import books.
“We have qualified people, we have vibrant publishers so I would want to see growth in the publishing sector which will help reduce the outflow of foreign exchange,” Charran said. He said crime is also of great concern to him and he wanted to see a more proactive approach to crime fighting.
“If we can’t increase the percentage of crimes solved, then we will not be giving that confidence to the people of Trinidad and Tobago.”