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Gas find must not lead to complacency

Thursday, June 15 2017

Today the TT Chamber turns to a topic that should be of interest to every citi zen of Trinidad and Tobago. It is about the recently announced discoveries by bpTT of new reserves of natural gas, and what this means for our country.

The gas will begin to be monetised by the year 2020 or 2021, and is likely to translate into major social s for the people of Trinidad and Tobago.

However, while we welcome news of the find, which unlocks approximately two trillion cubic feet of gas from the Savannah and Macadamia exploration wells, the country should guard against being lulled into complacency as a result of these discoveries.

Although the prospects are quite favourable, with improvements in our gas supply, it ought not be interpreted as the immediate end to the revenue generating challenge our country is currently experiencing.

For decades, Trinidad and Tobago has remained a single-commodity economy, despite numerous proposals, promises and plans to achieve greater diversification.

It certainly appears that each attempt to set this diversification process in train was truncated by some new and exciting development in the energy sector.

Short-term successes which provide fleeting instances of relief tend to be a distraction for many of us, whether we are in business, government or the labour movement.

The Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce (TT Chamber) is of the firm view that on this occasion - and as we look to the future - nothing must detract from our long-term commitment to a transformed economy.

It is a well-known fact that our oil and gas reserves are depleting and the end may be closer than we think.

Added to this, we remain quite vulnerable to external shocks that are brought about by geo-political events – as demonstrated by the current downturn which was precipitated by declining global energy prices.

Considering all this, the need for economic diversification is becoming even more critical with each passing year. Since it is not going to happen overnight, we must continue to aggressively pursue our stated goals and milestones as outlined in our National Development Strategy.

The TT Chamber - through its enhanced engagement strategy – has determined that diversification must be placed at the centre of national discourse and action.

We have already hosted the first in a three-part series on Economic Transformation, in collaboration with the IDB and the Economic Development Advisory Board. We are committed to doing even more.

Identifying, exploring and monetising new sectors and industries takes vision, innovativeness, creativity and responsiveness - attributes and aptitudes we can further unlock in our people through astute leadership and the political will to do what is required.

The TT Chamber views itself as a facilitator and an enabler, working in collaboration with all of our key stakeholders and Strategic Partners, to leverage our experience in business for the benefit of all of TT.

There is a great deal more to be done and we at the TT Chamber hope that soon we will be celebrating significant advances along the road to economic transformation and diversification.

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