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CONTACT Magazine (Vol.18 No.1 – April 2018)

The first issue of the rebranded CONTACT Magazine — with a brand new editorial and design direction — produced by MEP Publishers for the Trinidad & Tobago Chamber of Industry & Commerce

transforming t&T It

transforming t&T It starts right here, with you Enough talk, enough evasion. It’s time to get serious about change WORDS By: jonathan charles PHOTOGRAPHY courtesy: trinidad express newspaper “ Change is something we always say, / but every time we change things remain the same way,” sang the 2018 Calypso Monarch to the Savannah crowds back in February. “It won’t change despite all we do / if change doesn’t start with you.” It wasn’t a new message that Helon Francis was delivering. But the idea that each listener must become an agent of change was something of a novelty. Usually it’s the government which is supposed to change, or the opposition, or the business community. Someone else, anyway. But no matter who is urged to change, things have so far stayed the same. On the website of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) there is a scholarly paper which makes this point. Entitled “Diversification in T&T: Waiting for Godot?” (Khadan & Ruprah 2016). It refers mischievously to the 1953 Samuel Beckett play Waiting for Godot, in which two loquacious Irish vagrants wait for a mysterious saviour called Godot who never arrives. “Let’s go,” says one. “We can’t,” says the other. “Why not?” “We’re waiting for Godot.” So maybe Godot will come. Maybe the price of oil will get back to US$100. Perhaps the deepwater blocks will be teeming with recoverable resources. Perhaps Venezuelan gas will help us out. Perhaps everyone will start living within their means. But Godot never seems to turn up. In the world of economics, this seems to be quite a common view of Trinidad and Tobago’s progress in diversifying its economy. Another post on the same IDB site (Khadan 2016) says bluntly that “diversification away from the energy sector has largely failed”. It puts much of the blame, controversially, on “Dutch disease”: “the Trinidad and Tobago dollar has been consistently and substantially overvalued”. It might as well have blamed national complacency. 18 Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce www.chamber.org.tt/contact-magazine

Helon Francis, 2018 Calypso Monarch: “It won’t change despite all we do / if change doesn’t start with you” www.chamber.org.tt/contact-magazine 19 Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce

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