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Losing rank

SPECIAL TO BUSINESS DAY Thursday, July 6 2017

Trinidad and Tobago experienced an upward trend in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) based on World Bank data over the last 55 years. GDP in 1960 was US$535.7 million and peaked at US$28.87 billion in 2014 before falling to US$27.81 billion in 2015. This means we moved from US$631.33 per capita GDP in 1960 to US$20,444.08 per capita GDP in 2015. GDP in Trinidad and Tobago averaged US$8.03 billion during 1960 to 2015.

The fall in rankings in the series of indices such as the Global Peace Index (GPI), Human Development Index (HDI), Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), Global Competitiveness Index (GCR), Index of Economic Freedom and World Press Freedom Index should be a worry for us all, especially when placed in the context of the wealth generated in this country between 1960 and 2015.

The GPI is an attempt to measure the relative position of a nations’ peacefulness. The index gauges global peace using three broad themes: the level of safety and security in society, the extent of domestic and international conflict and the degree of militarization. Trinidad and Tobago in 2009 was ranked 77th out of 163 countries. This ranking deteriorated to 97 in 2017.

Another index the HDI is a composite statistic of life expectancy, education, and per capita income indicators, which are used to rank countries into four tiers of human development. This country had a ranking of 67 out of 159 countries in 2016 when compared to a rank of 58 in 2009.

Transparency International (TI) has published the CPI since 1996, annually ranking countries “by their perceived levels of corruption. The CPI generally defines corruption as “the misuse of public power for private benefit”. The CPI currently ranks 168 countries “on a scale from 100 (very clean) to 0 (highly corrupt). As at December 2016 Trinidad and Tobago had a scale of 35 giving us a ranking of 101. This scale describes us as mostly corrupt. The scale in 2015 was 39. We increased in corruption perception between 2015 and 2016. In 2009 this country was ranked 79.

The GCR is a yearly report published by the World Economic Forum and ranks countries based on the GCR. The report assesses the ability of countries to provide high levels of prosperity to their citizens. This in turn depends on how productively a country uses available resources.

The GCR measures the set of institutions, policies, and factors that set the sustainable current and mediumterm levels of economic prosperity. The most 2016-2017 edition of Global Competitiveness Report assessed 138 economies. The GCI score varies between a scale of 1 and 7 scale. A higher average score means more competitiveness.

Data for 2015 ranked this country 94 out of 138 countries with a score of 3.9. In 2008/09 the country was ranked 92 with a score of 3.85.

While our score may have improved, our ranking fell suggesting many more countries had improved on their GCR scores.

The Index of Economic Freedom is an annual index and ranking to measure the degree of economic freedom in the world’s nations. The highest form of economic freedom provides an absolute right of property ownership, fully realized freedoms of movement for labour, capital, and goods, and an absolute absence of coercion or constraint of economic liberty beyond the extent necessary for citizens to protect and maintain liberty itself. In 2016 this country was ranked 67 with a score of 64.1. A country with such a score is considered moderately free. When we look at the 2009 report we were ranked 41 with a score of 68.

This is another index where both our score and ranking have fallen.

In 1997, we were ranked 16th and this improved to our best ranking ever in 2000 when we attained a rank of 13th in the world.

World Press Freedom Index is an annual ranking of countries compiled and published by Reporters Without Borders based upon the organization’s assessment of the countries’ press freedom records in the previous year. It reflects the degree of freedom that journalists, news organizations, and citizens have in each country, and the efforts made by authorities to respect this freedom.

A smaller score on the report corresponds to greater freedom of the press as reported by the organization. In 2017 this country was ranked 34th, much higher than Jamaica which was ranked 8th. We should note that in 2009 we were ranked 28th but in 2003 were we ranked 5th. What a deterioration! We have had the good fortune of improving material wealth in this country. This begs the question what did all this wealth generated between 1960 and 2015 translate to. Our loss of rank must be a matter of concern.



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