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Imagining Trinidad and Tobago’s economic resurrection

By Dr Marlene Attzs, Economist



Desmond Tutu famously said, “The resurrection is a powerful reminder that even in the darkest of times, there is always the possibility of new life and transformation.”

I reflected on this and decided that a country’s resurrection must begin with an acknowledgement of mistakes made in the past and forecasting and embracing the potential for a better future.

An integral part of the resurrection of a country must be the collective will, the yearning in the hearts and minds of the citizens, to build a brighter and better future for themselves and future generations.

Speaking of economic resurrections, I can’t help but reflect on the Haitian brothers and sisters to whom history has not been kind and their present circumstances portend an abysmal future – a resurrection is surely needed.

For those who may be unaware, the current upheaval in Haiti is marked by a series of historical crises. These polycrises, defined as various crises in economics, politics, geopolitics, and the environment which are feeding into each other, have, for decades, deeply impacted Haiti and its citizens.

From political instability to multiple economic challenges (high unemployment rates, soaring inflation, and extreme poverty), to poor infrastructure, social unrest, extreme vulnerability to natural hazards (primarily earthquakes and hurricanes) and public health challenges—there seems to be no end to the crosses that Haitians have had to bear.

These interrelated issues have created a complex and dire situation for the Haitian people, which now necessitate urgent attention and comprehensive solutions. I shared the Haiti crisis as information for those who may be unaware.

We in Trinidad and Tobago are often very quick to lament our own circumstances. While we acknowledge that as a country we are not where we wish to be, I suggest we use this season of Easter, a time of new beginnings, to imagine T&T’s economic resurrection.

Resurrecting our country, by that I mean reviving it from the state of decline which we are witnessing, is a complex and multifaceted endeavour that requires ‘all hands on deck’.

First, there must be the political will for the resurrection—a concerted effort from our government. Equally important, we, the people, must be committed to the change we wish to see, recognising that our economic resurrection is a marathon and not a sprint. Change will not happen overnight but making the first step is critical.

Resurrecting T&T calls for strong and visionary leadership. Leaders willing to acknowledge past mistakes, take responsibility for them, and chart a new course for the nation. They also must inspire confidence and rally the population behind a collective vision for the future while fostering a sense of unity and national purpose.

In addition to the leadership requirement, we must reflect on our current economic model and policies. Are they appropriate to build resilience given the prevailing global circumstances?

Can the current policies inspire confidence and attract investment from domestic and international sources and create job opportunities for the population?

Are our regulatory frameworks appropriate for the outcomes we envisage? Do we have a fit-for-purpose education system to produce the necessary skills and capabilities that will be aligned to the economic vision we have for T&T?

We have yet another government-appointed committee to address constitutional reform in T&T. Will we make progress this time? Will we, the people, commit to the changes that are needed and give rise to our national resurrection?

Can we commit to good governance as a crucial element of the resurrection process? Can we resolve to build strong institutions, including an independent judiciary, transparent and accountable security agencies, and inclusive, people-centred religious organisations, in furtherance of a framework for good governance?

To successfully resurrect a country, it is also crucial to address social cohesion and social capital – the soft underbelly in our nation. By promoting inclusivity, equality, and social justice, we can bridge the gaps within our society and create an environment where we all can thrive.

Finally, promoting a sense of national pride, identity, and unity can play a significant role in resurrecting a country. Are we ‘Trinis to the bone’ or does that sense of national pride only surface occasionally?

We need to find the glue to keep the fabric of T&T together so that there is a shared sense of belonging and a collective spirit of resilience and determination.

Resurrecting our country requires a comprehensive and holistic approach built on a platform of strong leadership, effective policies and reforms, focused investment in human capital, and a commitment to good governance and social cohesion.

A resurrected and invigorated T&T will be able to face any social or economic challenge.

At this special time of year when we celebrate the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness, and hope over despair, let’s “roll away the stone” and allow the light to shine on our resurrected country.

That’s just my point of view!