Government has released a sneak peek of phase two of the Road Map to Recovery.
Whereas phase one outlined to strategies for short to medium term recovery, phase two looks at long-term transformation.
The three pillars that the government will focus on are familiar refrains: diversifying and transforming the economy in Tobago, and leveraging digitalisation in Trinidad; food security; and creating greater equity.
"The first pillar is to articulate the roadmap for transforming the economy from being energy dependent into one that generates revenues and foreign exchange from a broader range of sectors and a wider portfolio of products... New and increased investments must come from encouraging innovation, entrepreneurship and diversification, inspiring new players in the market, both in and outside Trinidad; in Tobago (it will be about) making it easier for investors to do business and get projects activated and commercialised," the report said.
Among the suggestions – many of which have been proposed before – will be adopting modern technology nationally, beginning with the digitalisation of public services; enhancing the ease of doing business; deepening research and building human capacity in manufacturing and other sectors; providing incentives and funding for small and medium-sized businesses while enabling the private sector; strengthening professional technical capacity at the Town and Country Planning Division (TCPD) and other state development entities; shifting focus to mass transit and other non-automobile options, including walking and cycling; expanding the use of renewable energy and improving energy efficiency; investing in steelpan manufacturing and the creative industries; strengthening and leveraging the capacity of our financial institutions; and promoting Tobago as a green tourism destination.
The second pillar relates to food security, with an emphasis on production that uses modern technology and on the quality of production... (the) intention is to attract young, well-trained." The suggestions include adopting new technology to make agriculture more attractive; strengthening the domestic farm-to-market supply chain; producing cocoa for domestic industry and niche export market expansion; investing in precision agriculture that allows farmers to maximise yields; promoting the development of home gardens; investing in artificial intelligence; Targeting the production of commodities that can be used down the value chain in agro-processing and other industries, including cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and textiles; public-private partnerships in agro-business; revisiting the mega-farm concept with an emphasis on technology transfer to smaller farms.
The third pillar is branding the country as having opportunities for self-improvement and building a decent standard of living. "The emphasis will be on human capital development and on expanding the range of business opportunities for all sections of society... for those who are genuinely not in a position to adequately look after themselves, the social protection system will be modernised and expanded to better meet their needs." The proposals include developing a small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) investment fund co-sponsored by financial institutions to provide nondebt financing to SMEs; providing financing for lower income housing $1,000,000 and below; introducing venture or private equity funding legislation; strengthening DevelopTT; developing and implementing policies to address affordability and equity of digital access; expanding national youth training programmes; expanding support of vulnerable people; providing continued protection from covid19; enhancing the provision of readily available primary care services, perhaps via a universal healthcare system; funding domestic violence shelters, transitional facilities and family planning programmes.
"It will require thoughtful, results-oriented behaviour from all stakeholders, requiring a national paradigm shift, which must be focused, results-oriented and driven. The emphasis will not simply be on having more things; it will be on doing better and building relationships and transforming systems to ensure that TT will be a place we remain happy to call home," the report said.