Home / View Point / Guest Columns / Dear editor: Our budgets lack originality and our Finance Ministers don’t understand ‘diversification’

Dear editor: Our budgets lack originality and our Finance Ministers don’t understand ‘diversification’

I stopped watching many TV shows and movies a long time ago because they have apparently run out of ideas and are in the habit of using old shows and scripts—that worked sometime in the past—to see if they would work now.

I am now convinced that I should also stop listening to our National Budget presentation and try to find something more productive to do with my time. I mean I could have gotten a good workout, spent time with the kids, and cooked a good meal of something during the Minister of Finance’s three and a half hour presentation.

Photo: Finance Minister Colm Imbert.
(Copyright i95.5FM)

Unfortunately, I am also now more convinced than ever that, firstly, our technocrats are starved of new ideas and simply hope that, by giving the same advice over and over and over, something would happen.

Secondly, I am also convinced that no one really knows the meaning of the term ‘diversification’. To take a case in point, in focusing on diversification in this Budget, the Minister of Finance highlighted the following areas: Business Facilitation, Export Promotion, Tourism, Agriculture, Business Outsourcing, Marine and Creative Industries.

Here is a direct quote from Budget Speech 2007: “Mr Speaker, the Government has identified and targeted seven key industries for intensified developmental focus. These industries are: Yachting, Fish and Fish Processing; Merchant Marine; Music and Entertainment; Film; Food and Beverage; and Printing and Packaging. The Government is now involved in intensive promotional activities to attract investments in these areas.”

Here is another from Budget Statement 2013: “To this end, we have identified a number of areas for growth and investment with substantial trade opportunities.

“Our priority sectors are: financial services, tourism, information and communication technology, downstream energy industries, agriculture, creative arts and the maritime sectors.”

Photo: Renowned Trinidad and Tobago trumpeter Etienne Charles (left).
(Copyright Laura Ferreira)

How long will we continue to say the same thing over and over before we realise that what we need is a substantial change in philosophy?

About Rishi Maharaj

Rishi Maharaj
Rishi Maharaj is the CEO of Disclosure Today. He holds a BSc. and MSc. in Government from UWI and has over 10 years work experience in Trinidad and Tobago's public sector. He is also a certified member of the Canadian Institute of Access and Privacy Professionals.

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One comment

  1. Generally speaking, originality is not a criterion by which we should judge budgets, I submit. Or Finance ministers.

    But when the country’s situation is as dire as ours, a minster of finance who is short on originality and therefore incapable of finding innovative solutions is as useful as a fifth wheel.

    Or as dangerous as a Fifth Column/Colm.