Tobagonians must work even harder to improve productivity now that the island is preparing itself for self-government.
This is the advice of Chief Secretary Orville London, who said he is heartened by recent assurances from Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley that Tobago’s self-government request will be treated with urgency. London said once the island achieves autonomy, the responsibilities of Tobagonians will be significantly expanded.
“If we are to enjoy optimal benefit from the new governance arrangements, it is imperative that we improve the general level of our productivity on the island,” London said at the 9th Tobago Economic and Business Outlook Conference 2015 at the Magdalena Grand Beach and Golf Resort, Lowlands last Thursday. (Thursday 12th November 2015) This year’s Conference was themed “Enabling Innovation, Enhancing Productivity and Embracing Entrepreneurship”.
London said Tobago has one of the lowest unemployment levels in the English-speaking Caribbean according to Central Statistical Office (CSO) data. At the end of 2014, the figure stood at roughly four per cent, down from about 12.5 per cent in 2001.
The Chief Secretary believes the quality and sustainability of those jobs must be reexamined with the goal of creating higher paying and more sustainable employment.
“It is also critical for us to acknowledge that we cannot diversify and build a competitive economy unless we address the productivity norms in our society,” London stated. “All our attempts to diversify and transform the Tobago economy will be significantly compromised if we do not improve our work ethic.”
London said the issue is not one Tobago can shy away from, as it could reduce the island’s competitiveness if it is not addressed in both the public and private sectors.
“Traditionally, Tobagonians have been known to be hard-working, honest and resilient people. These are the qualities we need to draw on as we seek to confront and treat with the productivity challenge on the island.
“By attacking the productivity challenge, we shall improve our competitiveness as a society, whether we produce for export or for the domestic economy,” London said.
The key to diversifying the island’s economy and developing the private sector, according to London, lies in creating an environment that encourages creativity and innovation in society, especially within dynamic regional and global economies that are “plagued with uncertainty”.
“…Our businesses must continuously strive to reinvent themselves, to find new ways of doing the things they now do, and to find new things to do.
“We must not believe that we are too small to engage in meaningful innovation. We must always strive to think big. Even as we act local, we cannot and should not lose sight of the global picture. ‘Act local but think global’ should not just be a platitude: it should be our mantra,” London said.