The trinidad Guardian / Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley called on citizens who hoard foreign exchange to stop it and release it back to the market.
“That foreign exchange story is not a simple, straightforward story. There are some shenanigans going on as well and they better face up to that. There are some people who are holding on to foreign exchange expecting a devaluation. That is not going to help us. You might have to wait a lot longer to realise your earnings from the expectation of an instant increase or you put it to work or put it back into the market place. For those of you who are earning foreign exchange it might be useful to bring the surplus back into T&T.”
Rowley spoke on Tuesday night at the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturing Associations Award Ceremony held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Port-of-Spain.
He said that he is happy that he is not the Minister of Finance who has heavy responsibility which drew laughter from the audience.
“I am glad that I am not the Minister of Finance. I give few instructions to the Minister of Finance because I do not want to take much of the blame. A Minister of Finance in T&T today pulling all this together and delivering that budget, must have done one hell of a job.”
Speaking about the challenges the country faces, he added that the “burden must be shared across the board.”
“If we do that then we stand a very good chance of choosing the best options available to us.”
He said the challenge for the Government is to build an economy that can grow sustainably outside of the energy sector.
“Not ignoring the energy sector as that is the lifeblood and will be so for quite some time. If that sector ails and was not here then we would be in a much more difficult situation.”
He urged manufacturers to look beyond T&T’s markets as the local population was too small to sustain the kind of growth needed for businesses.
He also called for greater innovation in how products are made and designed.
“Last week I was at a small fair in my constituency. I came face to face with a product that had me stumped. It was beautifully packaged. It was bread fruit flour, made in Carenage from Breadfruit grown in Tobago. I was impressed.”
He also asked the local business community not to let the language barrier stop them from entering the Latin American markets.
” A market of 20 million or 30 million, it could be attractive if we get five percent of that or if we get one percent of it. Let T&T be punching above our weight.”