“There remains a large volume of work which is incomplete for lack of resources and I am acutely aware that several persons remain disappointed with the lack of progress on their ideas and proposals.
“[…] My own expectations of high-level engagement followed by swift implementation on these and other policy issues have not been realised.”
The following is an explanation offered by Dr Terrence Farrell, the now former chairman of the Economic Development Advisory Board (EDAB), for his resignation, which was accepted by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley:
I speak for myself and not for other members of the EDAB, who are all independent professionals and can therefore speak in their own right.
I have resigned because I am not satisfied with the progress that the EDAB has made under my stewardship since its inception two years ago. That assessment is personal. I try to set high standards for my own performance and I do not think I have been able, as chairman, to attain those standards.
In my view, the macro-economic, developmental and diversification challenges facing this country are serious and require urgent, concerted action based on sensible plans which have the highest priority and should be implemented with focus and resolve. I had indicated in a newspaper interview when I took up the responsibilities at the EDAB that I did not expect that all its recommendations would become policy and be implemented but that—by my own standards—a reasonably high percentage should be. I have not been able to achieve that.
It is not that the EDAB has done nothing. It has submitted the following to the Government:
- In accordance with our primary mandate in our Terms of Reference, a Draft Diversification Strategy and Roadmap was submitted for consideration in March 2017.
- The following Advisory Notes were submitted: (i) Responding to the Declining Revenue Scenario (December 2015); (ii) Tripartite Discussions on Adjustment (February 2016); (iii) Accelerated Deepening of Relations between Trinidad and Tobago and Cuba (March 2016); (iiii) Establishing a Heritage Fund (May 2016); (v) Preliminary Proposals for the Pursuit of Mutually Beneficial Opportunities between Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela (May 2016); (vi) Revisiting Current Macroeconomic Policy Management (July 2016); (vii) Engaging the Trinidad and Tobago and West Indian Diaspora (October 2016).
- Advisory papers on: (viii) Encouraging Business Process Outsourcing and Global ICT-enabled services; (ix) Support for International Fine Cocoa Research Centre.
- Redraft of the National Innovation Policy (November 2016); this was eventually approved by Cabinet in September 2017. This policy document was supported by the IDB-sponsored Technology Foresighting consultancy managed by the EDAB and led to the EU and IDB-sponsored Innovation Conference with The UWI in June 2017.
- Assessment of Alutech industry initiative.
- Proposal on Steelpan Manufacturing Industry for Export.
- In addition, the EDAB has worked extensively on policy areas related to: (x) Vision 2030; (xi) Port Siting and Relocation Study; (xii) Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency; (xiii) Waste Management; (xiv) Strategic Plan for the Agriculture Sector.
The record of most of these activities is available on the EDAB website (www.edab.org.tt).
These submissions notwithstanding, there remains a large volume of work which is incomplete for lack of resources and I am acutely aware that several persons remain disappointed with the lack of progress on their ideas and proposals.
Parenthetically, I. together with three other members of the Advisory Board and other independent professionals, was appointed to a Committee to Review Wholly-Owned State Enterprises. That work, which covered 44 enterprises as well as TSTT, was completed in six months and the report submitted in July 2016.
My own expectations of high-level engagement followed by swift implementation on these and other policy issues have not been realised. Working within the public service environment requires an acceptance of a certain pace of work and a degree of patience with which I am clearly not blessed. Others, better endowed with these qualities, may succeed where I, by my own standards, have not.
I thank the Government for giving me the opportunity to be of service which I—and all other members—gave in the spirit of volunteerism and wholly without compensation of any kind. Mrs Camille Robinson-Regis, Minister of Planning and Development, was always accessible and whenever her pressing duties made it possible, gave her time and personal support to our work. Mrs Paula Gopee-Scoon, Minister of Trade and Industry, has also been supportive of our work.
I would also like to thank (i) my fellow members of the Advisory Board for their tremendous support and advice; (ii) the staff of the Secretariat, especially Dr Kieron Swift and Dr Keron Niles, who stepped up in the absence since April 2016 of an Executive Director; (iii) Mr Tomas Bermudez and the staff of the IDB in Port of Spain and Washington, who gave consistent outstanding support to our work; (iv) the UNDP, the EU Delegation, and the ambassadors and staff of the embassies of China and Japan for their support and encouragement; (v) the business community, especially Ronald Hinds and Gabriel Faria of the T&T Chamber of Commerce, and Nirad Tewarie of AMCHAM, as well as a host of academics, professionals and business leaders who gave me generously of the time, talent and counsel; (vi) CEOs of various government agencies, and (vii) Professors Brian Copeland, John Agard, Clem Imbert and other staff of the UWI and UTT.