While admitting that TT has a crime problem, the Prime Minister has said the country has several positives which make it an attractive destination for investment, including the availability of utilities and an educated work force.
Speaking at the opening of Domus Windows and Doors Ltd, Factory Road, Chaguanas yesterday, Dr Rowley once again addressed concern about a devaluation of the TT dollar, saying this is not the way to build a country.
He said the population seemed very good at focusing on the negatives plaguing the country instead of the positives, saying nationals often decry the country as the “worst place to do business.”
“We are a people who are very good at focusing on the negative. Yes, we do have a crime problem, but many of our world competitors have crime problems too.
“But what you have said to us today that is warming our hearts is, you have chosen TT as the best place to make your investment.”
He said Domus, which has invested over $55 million in its new factory and showroom, had chosen TT as “certain basic services” were unavailable at its previous location.
He also responded to a statement by Arthur Lok Jack, who had earlier said government should not be involved in business, and cited the sale of gasoline products and flour. Lok Jack said government should invite the private sector to invest in TT, saying the sector is “sitting on a lot of cash but opportunities are not around.
“Opportunities to utilise the private-sector expertise and money can come forward if the government decides at some stage of the game to privatise some of the state-owned corporations they have, and I say this: I don’t know why government is involved in flour. I don’t know why they do corn oil, why they like to sell me gas in a gas station. But by and large I know how that came about in the past.
“But all I am trying to say is that today that has to be changed around. We need to broaden the spectrum and we need the private sector to be much more involved at this level.”
However, Rowley said government still has a role to play in developing the economy, as the private sector has not evolved sufficiently to carry its share of the financial burden.
“If you evolve to a state where the private sector is now strong enough to carry some of the weight that the taxpayers are carrying inefficiently, then the private sector should be encouraged, but this is not to say that privatisation is a policy that says government has no place in business. The government has a place in business, and much of the business in TT is driven by government involvement.”
He also applauded Domus’s business model, saying it had chosen TT as a home base where it would produce “world-class products for the world.”
He said these types of business which operate at both the local and international levels were examples to emulate, rather than those who were clamouring for a devaluation of the dollar as a method for rebuilding the economy.
“Those who have gone abroad and are successful are good examples to those who think that the success of this country is a devaluation. They have stashed away US dollars and they harass the government to devalue the currency. That is not the way to build a country.”
Lok Jack said TT possessed a vibrant yet undervalued industrial sector and a world-class infrastructural network.
He said the goal of Domus goal, of which is a shareholder, is to become a net forex earner, as the company has targeted the entire Latin American market.