SUSTAINING ECONOMIC GROWTH AND BUILDING COMPETITIVE BUSINESSES
Mr. Speaker, I will now outline our policies for the main
production sectors. Let me reiterate that the top of our
agenda is the restructuring and strengthening of the drivers
of growth, so that we can develop a diversified, competitive
economy that occupies a more profitable position in the
global value chain. This means that we must shift successfully
from our primary production mode towards activities that
take advantage of our resource endowments, strategic location
and the quality of our workforce. In the process, we must
build competitive businesses on the basis of efficiency,
productivity and innovation.
AND ENERGY INDUSTRIES
Mr. Speaker, on a policy level, we have taken the decision
that all new project proposals in the downstream natural
gas sector, including ammonia and methanol production,
must include a value-added element for processing into
a higher value product. As a result, plans are in train
to establish plants to produce melamine, urea-ammonia
nitrate and acetic acid.
In addition, discussions are underway with respect to
the feasibility of establishing a world scale polypropylene
plant for this country. This US$1.4 billion polypropylene
plant will be the first plant in Trinidad and Tobago.
Plant start up is estimated for the year 2010. It will
be yet another of the basic building blocks towards making
Trinidad and Tobago a modern industrial state.
It will provide opportunities for downstream businesses
in consumer products, film for packaging food, toys, automotive
parts and appliances to name a few. It is estimated that
short-term employment during the construction phase should
peak at 4,000 jobs while long-term employment should result
in 400 jobs.
This will assist in reducing the capital as well as the
operating costs of both refineries. In addition, this
may provide an investment opportunity for citizens of
Trinidad and Tobago.
The Atlantic LNG Train 4 plant is expected to be commissioned
in November 2005 - two months ahead of schedule. In addition
to expanding LNG production further, a strategic decision
has now been taken to explore investment opportunities
along the entire LNG value chain. In this regard, NGC
LNG (Train 4) has been renamed the Trinidad and Tobago
LNG Company which will be the vehicle by which the Government
will make and manage future investments in LNG and promote
and develop new business opportunities in the industry.
A Committee has been established to select strategic partners
for possible joint venture arrangements with the Government
in areas of new LNG investments including a new LNG Train,
LNG shipping, re-gasification facilities, distribution
and marketing to the final consumer. The evaluation process
which employs a bidding procedure is expected to be completed
Several other potential partners have submitted proposals
for investments along the entire LNG value chain and these
proposals are currently being reviewed.
The National Gas Company is nearing completion of two
major pipeline projects that will significantly increase
the Company's capability to deliver increased volumes
of natural gas to new projects as and when needed. One
of these, a 76.5 kilometre 56-inch Cross Island Pipeline
(CIP) will have a transmission capacity of 2.4 billion
cubic feet per day (Bcf/d), and will initially service
the Atlantic LNG Train 4 expansion. This pipeline will
possess significant spare capacity to serve the needs
of future LNG expansions and new gas based industries
to be developed at the Union Industrial Estate at La Brea.
The second, the Beachfield Upstream Development (BUD)
project entails the construction of a 63 kilometre, 36-inch
offshore gas pipeline from bptt's Cassia B platform off
the south-east coast of Trinidad. The BUD project will
increase NGC's transmission capacity to Point Lisas Industrial
Estate from 1.4Bcf/d to 2.0 Bcf/d to meet the increased
gas demand for the M5000 methanol plant, the largest methanol
plant in the work and which is now coming on stream, and
the future growth in natural gas utilization.
The Government is at present in receipt of proposals for
the development of two aluminium smelter plants, one at
Cap-de-Ville, Point Fortin, and the other at Union Industrial
Estate, La Brea. In keeping with our policy to increase
the value added accruing to this country, one of these
proposals has clearly outlined plans that would utilize
100 percent of the produced aluminium in downstream facilities
located throughout Trinidad.
The Government is also currently giving consideration
to two proposals from NUCOR and the International Steel
Company aimed at the revitalization of the iron and steel
industry. Both proposals offer commitments that could
lead to opportunities for the establishment of plants
producing downstream products based either on cast-steel
Essar, an Indian Company, has agreed to construct an integrated
Iron and Steel Complex representing an investment of US$1.2
Billion which will include several downstream steel plants.
This investment will involve, among other things, the
manufacture of steel plates that can be used to make tubes
and represents a significant new development in the domestic
Mr. Speaker, all these initiatives spell jobs - sustainable
Optimising Refinery Operations
Mr. Speaker, PETROTRIN is pursuing a strategy to establish
the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery as the premier refining centre
in the Caribbean, supplying high-quality, clean fuels
to the local, regional and international market.
A threefold upgrade of the refinery is being pursued,
including: a Gasoline Optimization Programme, an Ultra
Low Sulphur Diesel Programme, and a Bottom of the Barrel
The three year gasoline optimisation programme is underway
and involves the construction or revamping of eight major
plants, along with the associated utilities and supporting
units at an estimated cost of US$350M. The construction
phase of the project is expected to lead to a considerable
number of jobs.
We are also considering the establishment of a new refinery
Community Partnership Initiative
Mr. Speaker, our drive to capture more of the value in
the energy sector via operational and strategic participation
is being impeded by an inadequate number of industry-ready
professionals and skilled workers. Currently, not enough
graduates are produced on an annual basis to meet the
demand. It is estimated that we need 620 professionals,
1,310 engineering technicians and 1,030 craftsmen and
machine operators annually. This shortfall in human capital
can be attributed to, among other things, a lack of information
concerning the sector. To stimulate interest in the petroleum
sector, the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries will
implement a Community Partnership Initiative. The objective
is to provide future candidates for the range of tertiary
level training initiatives now being implemented by the
Government at UTT, TTIT and COSTAATT. The Initiative will
have a mentorship component and will encourage energy
sector companies and professionals to have closer interface
with schools in their fence line communities through the
Adopt a School Programme and the Energy Alive School Quiz.
Mr. Speaker, the construction sector will continue to
be a major source of growth in 2006. In addition to the
Government's housing programme, work is proceeding on
a number of major building projects including:
* the Port of Spain International Waterfront Project;
* the Brian Lara Stadium in Tarouba;
* restoration of the Red House
* the Chancery Lane Complex in San Fernando;
* the Government Campus Complex;
* new facilities for the Ministries of Legal Affairs,
Education, Social Development, Ministry of Public Administration
* the THA Financial Complex and Scarborough Library; and
* the construction and upgrade of administrative Buildings
for the Municipal Corporations.
Mr. Speaker, I indicated last year that seven priority
industries have been identified with potential for business
development and job creation. To date we have completed
strategic plans for all of these areas and implementation
of three such plans has begun.
Assisted by investments and the provision of generous
fiscal incentives, our manufacturing sector has grown
to be the leader in the Caribbean. The Government is committed
to helping the sector maintain this dominant position
and to become competitive in new markets further afield.
Accordingly, in line with the recommendations of the Standing
Committee on Business Development, we are taking steps
i) complete the Technology Park at Wallerfield;
ii) modernize existing Industrial Parks and develop new
iii) increase market intelligence and product development
capabilities among manufacturers;
iv) introduce a Degree Program in Entrepreneurship and
Innovation at the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT);
v) improve the customs services, port facilities and the
various institutions facilitating business;
vi) intensify efforts (along with our CARICOM partners)
to heighten negotiations on free trade agreements with
MERCOSUR, Canada, and Central America;
vii) establish a Research and Development Fund for technology
and innovation to support the local research environment;
viii) develop a comprehensive legislative framework that
would facilitate the expansion of trade and investment;
ix) create an environment for fair competition in the
THE SMALL AND MICRO-ENTERPRISE SECTOR
The Business Development Company and its subsidiary company,
Caribbean Leasing Company, will continue to provide comprehensive
technical support and loan guarantees to enable small
and medium-sized enterprises to maximize their potential.
At least 80 companies will benefit from its Loan Guarantee
Programme in support of loans from financial institutions
exceeding $13 million, in sectors including printing and
packaging, electronics, agriculture, food and beverage,
light manufacturing and distribution. In addition, over
$16 million in leases will be disbursed through the Leasing
Company for the acquisition of machinery and equipment
for plant modernisation and upgrading.
Fair Share Programme
Mr. Speaker, in order to develop the Small Business Sector
further and facilitate the development of the entrepreneurial
experience and skills set, we will introduce a "Fair
Share Programme" as part of the reform of the procurement
regime in the Public Sector.
Under the programme, public sector contracts of a value
of $1,000,000 or lower will be reserved exclusively for
registered small businesses of various sizes.
I now turn, Mr. Speaker, to our plans for the development
of the agricultural sector. Global imperatives require
the agricultural sector to build and sustain competitiveness
by being resilient, adaptive and technology and market
driven. The sector must also be managed intelligently
using an efficient information technology support and
Over the medium-term our strategy will be to:
* Improve food security and food sovereignty by the development
of strategic agricultural sub-sectors;
* Pursue a sustainable rural development agenda;
* Encourage youth involvement in agricultural activity;
* Increase competitiveness in export and domestic markets.
The main drivers of success will be the quality of our
access roads, drainage, irrigation and water management
systems; land use rationalization; the availability of
finance and credit; effective marketing and the policy
and regulatory framework; fisheries management and infrastructure;
and the quality of our human capital.
The centrepiece of our intensified agricultural thrust
is the restructuring of Caroni (1975) Limited. With the
allocation of two-acre plots of agricultural land in fifteen
(15) locations throughout Trinidad to former employees,
we have created 7,247 new land owners and brought into
productive use an additional eighteen thousand, three
hundred and thirty eight (18,388) acres of land.
Mr. Speaker, the Ministry of Agriculture Land and Marine
Resources will register these new land owners as farmers
which will entitle them to benefit from Government's Agricultural
Incentive Programme. Some of these incentives will subsidise
the cost to farmers as follows:
* 50% of the purchase price of machinery and equipment;
* 50% of the cost of irrigation equipment including water
* 25% of the cost of tillage of land; and
* 15% of the purchase price of agricultural vehicles.
Training support will also be provided through the extension
services division of the Ministry and thirty (30) buildings
owned by Caroni (1975) Limited are to be used for this
purpose. The Ministry will also provide support in research
and development, agro-processing and marketing.
Mr. Speaker, these farmers will be encouraged to extend
from primary farming into value added products, particularly
agro-processing and marketing through the creation of
Co-operatives and agri-businesses.
These initiatives will transform the traditional semi-commercial
and primary-production-based agriculture into a set of
profitable viable agri-businesses, and have a positive
impact on employment, incomes, trade and production in
agriculture and allow them to take advantage of the export
opportunities that are available.
New Initiatives by ADB
The Agricultural Development Bank is now positioned as
the driving force in promoting business development, growth
and competitiveness in the agricultural sector.
The Bank has developed three new products in support of
its business development thrust:
* The 'Cocoa Revitaliser' to support the revitalisation
of the cocoa industry;
* The 'Grow Safe Loan' to promote the use of good agricultural
* The "Youth Window", which offers the lowest
interest rates to attract our young people to the sector.
To provide the feedstock for the agribusiness sector,
Government intends to establish 2 or 3 large farms in
the country through joint venture arrangements with private
Mr. Speaker, the Government is also moving towards the
development of new agri-business activity including the
establishment of an agro-industrial park. We are in the
process of finalizing plans to develop competitive industries
from seven primary products: Cassava, Paw Paw, Hot Peppers,
Sweet Potatoes, Pumpkins, Tilapia and Rabbits. The objective
is to develop new value added processed products for the
domestic, regional and extra regional markets.
We are also considering a proposal from the private sector
to use Caroni Lands as a basis for the development of
an agro-processing industry. This is a promising new initiative
which has many possibilities for the agro-processing industry.
Development of Strategic Agriculture
Mr. Speaker, a major objective of our agricultural strategy
is food security. We have commenced programmes to increase
the level of sufficiency in five (5) strategic foods,
namely Rice; Root crops and tubers; Small ruminants; Aquaculture
Mr. Speaker, over the past twenty years, the number of
family farms has declined from approximately 30,000 units
to 20,000. Yet they remain central to food production,
the economic livelihoods of rural communities and good
natural resource management. In implementing our rural
development policy we will focus on:
* Providing infrastructure to facilitate increased production
and productivity by family farms;
* Increasing the production of local foods through the
Growbox and Community Aquaculture projects;
* Expanding youth-oriented programmes such as YAPA and
the 4H and Young Farmers' Programmes;
* Establishing agricultural settlements in rural areas;
* Providing training and facilitating the transfer of
appropriate technology, to farmers, fisher folk and agri-businesses.
Mr. Speaker, in testimony to the success of our marketing
strategy, which positions Trinidad and Tobago as a destination
of choice for leisure, events and conference tourism,
visitor arrivals are projected to increase to 481,000
in 2005 some 8 percent higher than last year.
Nonetheless, a significant amount of work is required
to bring our tourism product on both islands to internationally
The Government, Mr. Speaker, intends to exploit fully
our enormous tourism potential in Trinidad. Our strategic
thrust is to:
* upgrade the existing room stock to international standards,
and establish a critical mass of new rooms led by the
5-star end of the market;
* position Port-of-Spain as the Meetings and Conventions
Capital of the Southern Caribbean and the Business Centre
of the Sub-region;
* Upgrade selected sites and attractions and develop various
facets of the product;
* Increase airlift service to both islands;
* Enhance industry standards and quality service through
human resource development and on-going industry training;
* Generate a higher level of tourism awareness among the
In keeping with our focus on product development, the
Chaguaramas Development Authority is in the process of
establishing a National Heritage Park and Cultural Village
in the Chaguaramas Peninsula. In addition, we propose
to develop a National Heritage Park in each Municipal
Corporation, which will encourage exploration and conservation
of the cultural resources of each municipality.
SOUND INFRASTRUCTURE AND EFFECTIVE
Mr. Speaker, we recognize the adverse impact the quality
of public infrastructure has on the productive sectors
as well as the quality of life of our citizens. We must,
therefore, respond in creative and innovative ways to
bring relief in the short, medium and long-term.
In 2006, the Government will provide the necessary resources
to treat properly with these issues. We have allocated
the sum of $489 million specifically for road rehabilitation
and repair work, and for the first time the sum of $292
million has been allocated specifically for the clearing,
de-silting and improvement of rivers, drains and watercourses.
Allow me now to inform this Honourable House of specific
plans and programmes to upgrade our main infrastructure
Mr. Speaker, the major road infrastructure projects scheduled
for fiscal 2006 include, inter alia:
* Extension of the Solomon Hochoy Highway from Golconda
in San Fernando to Debe;
* Commencement of a new highway from San Fernando to Princes
* Extension of the Churchill Roosevelt Highway from O'Meara
Industrial Estate to Wallerfield - this project is already
underway, and will provide proper highway access to the
new University of Trinidad and Tobago and the Technology
Park under construction at Wallerfield;
* Commencement of the Interchange at the intersection
of the Churchill/Roosevelt and Uriah Butler Highways;
* Commencement of the Western Freeway to Chaguaramas;
* Commencement of the Mamoral Dam - which will reduce
significantly flooding in the Caparo River Basin;
* Extension of the Diego Martin Highway to Diamond Vale
to be completed within the next two months; and
* Commencement of an Overpass and Highway improvements
in Cocorite - which will facilitate the construction of
new secondary schools planned for the Westmoorings area.
The newly formed National Infrastructure Development Company,
NIDCO, will be responsible for the execution of most of
these projects on behalf of the Ministry of Works &
The IDB-funded National Highways Programme will continue
in fiscal 2006 with the rehabilitation of 70 kilometres
of roads and the commencement of construction of 19 new
bridges. Our Programme for Upgrading Road Efficiency (PURE)
will target the repair of landslips, and road rehabilitation
generally, as well as the development of alternative vehicular
access routes linking key population centres throughout
the country, and the construction of additional lanes
on our major highways and main arterial roads. Two major
areas of focus will be the development and improvement
of roads in Chaguanas and Maraval to relieve traffic congestion.
Mr. Speaker, the Government will embark in 2006 on the
development of a Comprehensive National Drainage Plan
that takes into account existing studies.
In the interim, the Drainage Division will continue work
on the projects already started, which are geared to address
specific situations. These include the commencement of
construction of the Mamoral Dam and Reservoir in 2006
to alleviate flooding in the Caparo River Basin. Because
of the magnitude and complexity of this project it will
be undertaken over a two and half year period, costing
in excess of $100 million.
Mr. Speaker, the issue of flooding in the City of Port
of Spain is an urgent one. In this regard, as a short-term
measure, the Ministry of Works and Transport, in conjunction
with the Port of Spain City Corporation, will undertake
the responsibility to flush out all of the underground
drains within the City. New pumps will also be installed
for the Sea Lots area, and the identification of a permanent
solution to the problem of flooding in Port-of-Spain will
be one of the key deliverables of the Comprehensive National
Mr. Speaker, it will be remiss of me not to refer to the
situation where previously flood-free areas are now being
transformed into flood prone areas, as a result of poorly-engineered
and poorly-constructed land and building developments.
I can assure you that the Government intends to deal very
firmly with unscrupulous land developers who contribute
in no small way to our flooding problems.
Mr. Speaker, in our 2004 Budget presentation, we advised
this House of the award of a contract for the Comprehensive
National Transportation Study. This study has commenced
and is expected to be completed by July 2006.
One of the major issues which the consultants have encountered
in the initial review of the land transportation sector
is the general gridlock that occurs on the nation's roadways
and, in particular, along the main East-West and North-South
arterial roads in Trinidad. It is our intention to reintroduce
a rail system in Trinidad to provide a viable solution
to our public transportation problems. In this context,
we have already embarked on a Mass Transit Study, and
in 2006, we shall invite proposals for the first trial
phase of our new light rail system. The new Mass Transit
Rail System is expected to cost at least $15 billion,
when it is fully implemented, but we believe that this
expenditure is justified and required.
Mr. Speaker, allow me to address the important issue of
BWIA. As the national community is well aware, the Task
Force appointed by the Government to evaluate options
for the future of our national airline has submitted its
recommendations. After careful deliberations, we have
chosen to pursue the option of creating a new National
entity using as a basis, a restructured BWIA. I acknowledge,
Mr. Speaker that there have been numerous efforts at 'restructuring'
over the past 45 years but we must put these efforts in
the context of the dynamics of the airline industry and
especially state-owned airlines across the world. We believe
strongly that we are now in a position to complete a seamless
transition from the existing BWIA to this new entity.
But, this will involve a substantial investment of taxpayers'
dollars by the Government and some major departures from
the status quo. We will therefore proceed with a plan
that will involve:
* recapitalisation of approximately US$250 million to
ensure this new entity could manage its operations. The
new entity would continue to be majority owned by the
Government with a plan for further divestment to the private
* a significant change in the management of the company
and improvement of corporate governance;
* to ensure that the new entity is not put to a disadvantage
to charter flights;
* a restoration of maintenance capability in the Company;
* fundamental changes in the work rules and culture of
In this regard the Government will appoint a new board
of BWIA under the Chairmanship of Mr. Arthur Lok Jack
to undertake this exercise of the transition from existing
BWIA to the new entity.
With this approach, Mr. Speaker, we believe we can arrive
at a new airline designed abinitio as a Regional Carrier
and open in due course to participation from Regional
Governments and the Regional Private Sector.
Mr. Speaker, feedback from the travelling population in
respect of the Government Shipping Service (G.S.S.) has
been overwhelmingly positive. Citizens experienced increased
comfort and decreased travel time.
Mr. Speaker, the data reveal that between January to July
2005, total passenger usage on the Government Shipping
Service (G.S.S) increased by approximately one hundred
percent (100%) and total vehicle transportation increased
by approximately eighty-two percent (82%) on the Port
of Spain - Scarborough route, over last year.
You will be aware by now that in November 2005 there will
be two leased fast ferries on the inter-island route,
and I also wish to advise that in 2006, the Government
proposes to purchase a fast ferry (if an appropriate one
is available) to service the sea bridge between Trinidad
and Tobago, when the CAT is taken out of service in April
Refurbishment and construction works will be undertaken
on the Passenger Terminal Building at Port of Spain at
an estimated cost of $11Mn, with physical works commencing
in early 2006. The expansion of the Terminal Building
at Scarborough is estimated to cost $1.5Mn with designs
to be undertaken in fiscal 2006 and actual construction
works will commence in fiscal 2007.
The Public Utilities
Mr. Speaker, our economic development plan focuses on
the provision of adequate utilities, especially electricity
Accordingly, several capital-intensive projects will be
implemented that will provide additional power to facilitate
the planned housing, industrial and commercial activities
across the country. These include: establishment of a
power station at Tobago; the bringing of 132 kv supplies
to Wallerfield, Union Estate, Tarouba and Point Fortin;
the upgrade of the electricity supply to north and east
Trinidad; and the upgrade of several substations across
Additionally, electricity supply will be provided to those
rural communities where previously it has been uneconomic
to do so. All major roads and highways across the country
will be illuminated to aid in reducing night time road
accidents, providing a greater sense of security to residents
and facilitating greater commercial activity through longer
T&TEC will continue its programme of activities designed
to enhance living conditions throughout the country directly.
Currently there are 70,000 street lights in the country.
The aim is to install 50,000 additional street lights
in the next three year period and upgrade the wattage
of 36,000 street lights.
T&TEC will also undertake approximately 300 electrification
projects between the NSDP and the Rural Electrification
Programme, a joint intervention funded by the Government
and the European Commission.
Further, Mr. Speaker, in an effort to improve the quality
and supply of water and wastewater services, the Water
and Sewerage Authority (WASA) will commence implementation
of the three-year Water Sector Modernization Programme
estimated to cost $1.2Bn. The Programme will result in
an increase in the number of persons receiving a 24/7
water supply from 26 percent to 36 per cent and an improvement
in supply to much of the country.
SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL
Mr. Speaker, maintaining a clean healthy environment is
a key priority for this Government as we move decisively
to enhance overall socio-economic growth and the well
being of our citizens. The environment has great economic
and cultural importance and is under threat by a number
of factors including deforestation, indiscriminate land
development, and the improper disposal of solid waste.
These factors lead to massive flooding during the rainy
season, a situation which is particularly acute in our
inner cities and business districts.
National Environmental Policy
In this context, Mr. Speaker, we have revised the National
Environmental Policy to include the application of economic
instruments and market incentives to encourage sustainable
use of resources and the reuse and recycling of waste.
This leads me, Mr. Speaker, to the issue of the improper
disposal of beverage containers. In order to address this
problem, the EMA has finalized a Draft Beverage Containers
Bill, which is intended to encourage the reuse and/or
recycling of container waste and to discourage the wasteful,
unsanitary and environmentally degrading practice of disposing
of empty beverage containers. We propose to establish
a recycling industry, with incentives to be offered to
manufacturers, vendors and consumers to reuse or recycle
Mr. Speaker, CEPEP has made an important contribution
towards the enhancement of the environment while affording
its 6,000 workers gainful employment and the opportunity
to make a meaningful contribution to their families and
their communities. The programme has also given its workers
exposure to on-the-job training and educational opportunities
that are geared towards skills enhancement, career advancement,
and more importantly, improved self esteem.
Mr. Speaker, the time has come to re-organise the CEPEP
Programme. Firstly, we will review the existing contracts
to ensure that they are consistent with original objectives
of giving workers shares in the company. The hours of
work in the programme will now be from 6am to noon, and
workers will be required to accept training from 4pm -
6pm as a pre-condition of employment with CEPEP.
The training will include adult literacy, life skills,
conflict resolution, family life, personal management
and for contractors, financial management. The intention
is to partner with existing training programmes to give
workers the requisite skills so that they can graduate
out of the programme.
Mr. Speaker, permit me to reiterate the commitment of
Government to the protection and the "greening"
of the environment. Accordingly, the National Reforestation
and Watershed Rehabilitation Programme will continue to
undertake reforestation of State lands through the contracting
of community groups.
Moreover, Mr. Speaker, community groups and organizations
will be encouraged to access the resources of the Green
Fund in fiscal 2006. We are now in the process of finalising
the Regulations for submission to the Parliament and will
launch a promotional campaign on the procedures for applying
for grants from the Fund.
Public Sector Reform
Mr. Speaker, permit me to update this Honourable House
about a number of public sector reforms that have been
underway or are to be introduced in the context of the
2005/06 Budget. Specifically, I would like to treat with:
(i) The status of our financial sector reforms;
(ii) The introduction of additional special purpose state
enterprises to manage certain capital projects on behalf
of the central government; and
(iii) Procurement reform, which was foreshadowed in our
Financial Sector Reform
Mr. Speaker, our comprehensive financial sector reform
programme, based on the White Paper on the Reform of the
Financial System which was laid in Parliament in June
2004, is proceeding well and is broadly on schedule. You
would recall that in July 2004, the Insurance Act was
amended to allow for the transfer of responsibility for
the Insurance sector.
In March 2005, Electronic Trading commenced on the Stock
Exchange, while two months later the office of the Financial
Services Ombudsman - an upgrade from the Banking Service
Ombudsman - was launched. Our Payments System has been
upgraded in line with international standards: we now
have a Credit Rating Agency and we have established a
Financial Sector Regulatory Council to ensure co-ordination
between the various regulatory bodies.
Several pieces of legislation governing the Financial
Services Sector are in an advanced state of preparation.
Amendments to the Financial Institutions Act and the Securities
Industry Act are expected to be brought to Parliament
by the end of 2006. Currently, work is advanced on a new
Insurance Act and on legislation which would bring Credit
Unions under the regulation of the Central Bank. These
pieces of legislation are expected to be presented to
Parliament before the end of 2006. Legislation governing
the Private Pensions Industry which is currently been
supervised by the Central Bank, is also on the agenda
for late 2006 or early 2007.
Mr. Speaker the objective behind all these initiatives
is to consolidate Trinidad and Tobago's position as the
Pan Caribbean Financial Centre.
Special Purpose State Enterprises
Mr. Speaker, traditionally implementation of the Public
Sector Investment Programme (PSIP) has faced serious challenges
because of skill shortages and cumbersome bureaucratic
procedures. Over the last three years, these problems
have been exacerbated by this Government's commitment
to accelerate infrastructural development in line with
our long-term vision. In order to increase the rate of
implementation of our expanded investment programme, we
will out-source to fifteen (15) special purposes State
Enterprises to deliver an accelerated implementation of
certain approved Government projects in selected ministries.
These fifteen special purposes vehicles will undertake
developmental projects in the areas of education, community
development national infrastructure, rural development,
the development of sporting infrastructure, tourism and
urban development. The enterprises would report to the
respective line ministers and would be subject to the
highest standards of good governance, transparency and
These enterprises are limited liability companies to assist
Ministries which do not possess the institutional capacity
to manage the various infrastructural development projects.
They will have 'project management' responsibilities for
the identified projects and the actual work will in turn
be outsourced to the private sector. This is consistent
with the Public Private Partnership Model of Project Delivery.
Strict procedures have been established to govern the
relationships between the Enterprises and the Government
in the delivery of their respective mandate. The procedures
* Funding of the operations of the Enterprises;
* Remuneration packages for the executive management;
* Procurement and accounting standards and reporting arrangements.
We believe that these enterprises can effect significant
increases in the delivery of Government projects thereby
improving the well-being of the citizenry at large.
Mr. Speaker, the Board of Directors of the new companies
will have full control over the implementation of the
projects assigned to their respective company. However,
the Boards will be held fully accountable for completing
the projects on time and within Budget as well as upholding
good corporate governance practices within the state enterprises.
Mr. Speaker, another reason for the slow project implementation
of the PSIP is the inflexible nature of the existing legal
framework - that is the Central Tenders Board Ordinance
and its various amendments. The platform has too little
flexibility to accommodate modern modes of project delivery.
In the 2005 Budget Statement, I indicated that a Green
Paper on the Reform of the Government's Procurement Regime
was in the public domain for comment. I am pleased to
report that the comments received from the stakeholders
have been considered and incorporated into a White Paper
which was laid on the table of this Honourable House last
Monday, paving the way for a new comprehensive approach
to Government's acquisition of goods and services.
Mr. Speaker, the establishment of the new Procurement
system will require the repeal of the Central Tenders
Board Ordinance with its subsidiary legislation, and its
replacement by a new Act. The new Procurement Regime will
ensure greater flexibility, open competition and ethical
and fair dealing. In addition, it will increase the promotion
of national industry.
Mr. Speaker, the proposed Procurement infrastructure will
entail the following:
(1) A fully decentralised procurement regime;
(2) Establishment of a single Legal and Regulatory Framework
based on the underlying principles of:
* Value for Money;
* Transparency; and
(3) Establishment of a Regulatory Agency and an Independent
Regulator with a monitoring and auditing function;
(4) Application of the new Public Sector Procurement Regime
to all Government Ministries, Statutory Boards, Regional
Health Authorities, Regional Corporations, State Enterprises,
NGO's and CBO's.
Mr. Speaker, we anticipate that this new Procurement Regime
will come into effect by the fourth quarter of fiscal