“BP discovers two trillion cubic feet in two wells” declared the Express on May 29, 2017. It further stated that an event would be held at Hilton to ‘celebrate’ these recent achievements. Undoubtedly there is much to celebrate when such an oil-dependent nation as Trinidad hits the jackpot. Many will view these developments as the solution to our recent problems. While the oil discovery will lead to an injection in government revenue and a reduction in transport and all other oil-related costs, this is not a cure for our problems; only a temporary reprieve.
If any organisation, business or country can be crippled by the loss of one avenue for business or depletion of a solitary resource, that points to an over-dependence on said resource and inefficient management at the helm. The crux of our issues and laboured development as a nation lies in our lack of DIVERSIFICATION.
The country is in need of fresh ideas, innovation and rising industries outside of oil and gas. And the truth is only WE, as individuals, can bring about this change. As much as we would like it, no government can come in and rectify all our problems. It is their job to put systems in place to make it easier for the individual but the onus still falls on us to work to make the country the type of place we want it to be. The incumbent government, as well as its predecessors, has failed to place the necessary emphasis on expanding our economy and utilizing our resources beyond oil. Over the years we have been blessed with an enviable oil reserve, but eventually the well will run dry…and then what?
We only need to take a closer inspection of some of the leading brands in the world to see that over-reliance on any one product is a dangerous and ineffective business model. For example, if people stop buying Coke, Coca-Cola can still depend on Dasani, Powerade, Minute Maid or Sprite. Similarly, if customers choose not to buy milk from Nestle, the company still boasts products such as: Nescafe Coffee, Cini Minis, Kit-Kat, Purina Dog Chow, Haagen-Dazs and Gerber, just to name a few.
Diversification is as much about our individual business and education choices, as it is about governmental policy. We must push the country forward by advancing our education, adding value at our jobs and creating small businesses. If you think the arts and fashion are the way forward, why not start an art studio or a fashion company? If you believe we need increased focus on agriculture, why not start a small garden or farm?
Trinidad has all the resources, particularly in terms of land and climate, for our agriculture industry to thrive!
We must recognise the IMPORTANCE and the IMPACT of our INDIVIDUAL actions. We cannot be obsessed with changing our country in a matter of weeks, but everyday we ought to do the best that we can to improve not only our lives, but the country as a whole. And it cannot be stated enough that the two are not mutually exclusive. The success of your business will serve to bring you riches, it will create employment and the added product/service will improve the quality of life for all who benefit from it.
Each individual has an important role to play in our country reaching where we want it to. No person or government can hand you your dreams or achieve your goals for you. Nor can the government transform the nation all by itself. We must all work to expand and improve our economy. We only need one pioneer in a new industry to successfully diversify our economy. The possibilities for you, as well as for our entire country, are truly endless.
“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”- John F Kennedy