Labour Minister Rennie Dumas yesterday said there has been much talk about how the TT economy worked, and persons have been advising the Government. However, he added “none of them has been able to show us a model”
Addressing the presentation of instruments to members of the Council at the Ministry of Labour at Riverside Plaza, he said one of the first acts of the Council will be setting up the National Productivity Centre. “We expect a body of scholarship to emerge from this. It is a way of looking at our economy, and measuring the activities within our economy, and measuring those 12 indicators used by the World Forum as well as others they may establish”.
Dumas said that the Council could devise a “model” of the economy, or model for significant sectors. This would provide an understanding of the economy and the Government would be able to make decisions on advice received.
The Council he explained, has several responsibilities, among them: to promote and develop greater productivity and quality awareness and consciousness of the people of TT, inculcate new values and attitudes in TT regarding productivity, quality and competitiveness, advise the Government on the formulation of national policies and strategies on all aspects of productivity. Dumas said the World Economic Forum (WEF) defined competitiveness as “the set of institutions, policies, and factors that determine the level of productivity of a country”. But it should be noted that this measurement of a country’s level of productivity “as perceived against the level of productivity of all other countries registered”.
Dumas said he was saying the WEF information should be ignored, but the local situation should be put in context. He questioned if the ranking of 92 for TT’s global competitiveness was justified, taking into consideration the relative movement of TT’s Gross Domestic Product compared with other countries.
“I want to suggest we check our measurements again,” Dumas said. He said if TT’s rate of growth in returns over the past ten years was examined then the measurements being used by local economists needed query when applied locally.
Dumas pointed to the 12 pillars used on the Global Competitiveness index including institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic stability, and health and primary education. He said the Government had paid particular attention to these areas.
TT’s “waning” ranking for global competitiveness and productivity from 84 in 2007-2008 to 92 for 2008-2009 was noted. Dumas said while arguments can be made against statements in the report, it was agreed there was need to create conditions for rapid and sustained productivity growth.
Productivity is measured by the Central Statistical Office which used a Index of Domestic Production divided by the Index of Man Hours Worked. While there has been talk of a drop in productivity, even at the Government’s website which spoke of “a marked decline has been observed over the past five years”, this was refuted by Dumas who said the CSO figures indicated a gain in productivity between 2004 and 2007.
The 15-member Council is headed by Dr Andre Vincent Henry who said the CSO provided a macro indicator which “had certain imperfections in it and does not give a true picture of what is happening”. He said this indicator also included the increases in output in the energy sector and this may not be driven by the productivity of the people of TT. Henry said productivity needed to be broken down into different levels from macro to micro. He said key sectors should be identified in which an impact can be made on productivity and it can be measured.