Falling energy costs and earnings are putting the standard of living and way of life in jeopardy in Trinidad and Tobago. In response, the Draft National Development Strategy (NDS) 2016-2030 (Vision 2030) was created, which integrated the Sustainable Development Goals’ principles and objectives (SDGs). Its goal is to direct the development process while taking into account the current and long-term demands of all of the country’s residents.

The NDS outlines the vision and broad framework for Trinidad and Tobago’s development through 2030. Furthermore, the NDS asserts that all segments of society must take decisive efforts toward the socio-economic transitions required to overcome many developmental and environmental issues.

The NDS presents the primary problems that Trinidad and Tobago faces after an analysis of the country’s past and current performance against selected countries in major socio-economic areas such as, addressing the impact of shale gas and alternative energy sources, as well as lower gas reserves production in Trinidad and Tobago; Solving and preventing crime; Reversing non-progressive beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours, such as low productivity and poor work ethos; Undertaking constitutional and institutional reform; Ensuring effective and efficient public service delivery, execution of development interventions, and measurement of results; Dispelling the culture of dependency and entitlement among the population; Changing the current economic growth model to one that is more ecologically friendly while also tackling climate change, which includes lowering greenhouse gas emissions and strengthening resilience to their negative consequences; and Preserving and utilising our natural resources in a sustainable manner.
The NDS builds on Vision 2020’s extensive engagement process, which included over 80 nationwide consultations and 27 sub-committees made up of representatives from academia, the public and business sectors, and civil society. Because of its representativeness and authenticity, the Vision 2020 National Vision was mostly kept in this process. Modifications were made, however, to cover important problems such as climate change and renewable energy, resulting in an improved National Vision for 2030. The NDS also introduces new Thematic Areas that will help focus development efforts toward 2030 such as, putting on emphasising on development of human resource; Delivering Good Governance and Service Excellence; Improving Productivity through Quality Infrastructure and Transportation; Building Globally Competitive Businesses; and Placing the Environment at the Centre of Social and Economic Development.

The Vision 2030 national development goals for each thematic area were developed through a collaborative process comprising Ministries and Departments. In the NDS, fifty-six (56) national goals are stated, which are linked in three five-year planning timeframes. These objectives are also in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and are based on the three pillars of sustainable development: economic, social, and environmental.
As a signatory to the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Trinidad and Tobago must connect its national policies with the SDGs, which are broad in scope and cut across most areas of national policy. The 17 SDGs were examined and aligned with the Vision 2030 targets to ensure coherence when creating the NDS. A review of the 230 indicators and 169 targets within the SDGs will be undertaken during the implementation of the NDS, and will be integrated into the new National Performance Framework and, where relevant, the various Ministry/Sector Plans, therefore motivating specific actions to attain the Vision.

The NDS claims that, despite periods of economic progress from 1994 to 2008, Trinidad & Tobago underperformed in some key socioeconomic sectors, particularly when compared to more successful countries with similar features. As a result, the NDS recommends immediate reforms to culture, values, and attitudes, as well as macroeconomic policy and institutional frameworks, including constitutional revision, through public engagement as well as agreement. The NDS accepts that the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago is solely responsible for monetary and exchange policy administration. It does, however, propose general monetary policy principles, such as maintaining a favourable external reserves position and allowing the foreign exchange allocation mechanism to consider stimulating areas that increase export capacity and foreign exchange revenues.

The NDS also offers a number of macro-level solutions under each Development Theme, taking into account the difficulties, opportunities, key reforms necessary, the National Vision, and short-term targets. For example, one of the goals of the “Good Governance” Theme is to create modern, effective ma.nagement systems within the public sector by building a merit-based promotion system. Other strategies include improving forensic capability and integrating the Anti-Corruption Bureau with the Financial Investigations Bureau to increase crime detection rates. Ministerial and Departmental programmes and projects must be transformative in order to achieve the Vision 2030 goals. Moving forward, there must be a strong focus on execution and results if the Vision 2030 goals are to be met. The NDS encourages all members of society to participate in the development of our country.

The private and public sectors, as well as civil society, including labour, citizens, our international development partners, and the diaspora, are key stakeholders. Importantly, the private sector must take the lead in the diversification effort, with the government acting as a facilitator and supporter.

Given that Vision 2030 is a long-term development framework and legislative changes may be required in some cases, the necessity for assistance from Parliament in modernising its institutions and country is stressed.

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