BECAUSE the Trinidad and Tobago electorate appears to have made a policy decision to change governments every five years, with minimum “extra time” added in only two instances in the last 30 years, it is difficult to identify singular achievements of the five prime ministers we’ve had during that period, the incumbent included.

With few exceptions, policies, especially in relation to the national economy, straddled several administrations, and some, such as the shift in focus from oil to natural gas, go back 40-plus years to the era of Dr Eric Williams. It was under his watch, during the first real oil boom that began in the mid-1970s, that the Point Lisas Industrial Estate took shape with the establishment of fertiliser, steel and power-generating plants.

Even with those strictures, Patrick Manning was able to leave something of a legacy by the rapid expansion of the downstream energy sector – ammonia, urea, methanol, gas processing – that all but saturated Point Lisas and extended into La Brea, Point Fortin and Galeota. Not all of these projects went well.

The State-owned steel mill, which cost more than a billion dollars, was a financial disaster from the start. It was eventually sold to Lakshmi Mittal for a song. Later, the State-owned methanol plants were also sold to private enterprises.

However, the State retained control of the Estate through its 51 per cent stake in Plipdeco, which also owns the port.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

eldiscoduro.com
We should note that privatisation of the downstream energy industries was a policy position of every administration since the NAR in 1986, not just Manning’s.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

mundinews.com

Also, while all these industries, along with the giant Atlantic, will have enjoyed generous tax incentives for limited periods, they have contributed substantially to government revenues.

Manning’s vision for greater industrialisation, in which he promoted the establishment of an aluminum smelter in Union Estate in La Brea, and the construction of an industrial island off Otaheite, met with widespread resistance from the local environmental lobby and other citizens.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

economiavenezuela.com
He ploughed ahead nevertheless, starting with the construction of a huge electricity generating plant.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

economiavenezuela.com

While the smelter was scuttled, and the idea probably cost him the elections in 2010, Trinidad Generation Unlimited, a 720-megawatt plant that is fully owned by government, came on stream between 2013 and 2014.

That plant made the country’s electricity supply secure so much so that PowerGen was able to de-commission its Port of Spain power plant.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

www.entornointeligente.com
Outside of energy and heavy industries, Manning was responsible for adjusting the T&T currency from a fixed rate of exchange to the US dollar to a “controlled float” in April 1993.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

xn--elpaisdeespaa-tkb.com
With harsh economic times dogging the economy from the mid-1980s, the NAR had devalued in 1988 (from $3.60 to $4.25 to the USD), but the country was still under intense stress.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

breakingtrending.com
Foreign reserves were perilously low.

The float was met with outrage, but in a short time, when the TT dollar did not collapse, it was accepted as a positive move.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

videojuegosmania.com
It took a lot of courage for Manning to make that move. Manning must also be credited with the introduction of the GATE programme in 2004, which made tertiary education more accessible to poor-but-bright students.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

luisoberto.net

It is estimated that GATE has helped close to 200,000 students. However, as with most such facilities being susceptible to abuse, the current government appointed a task force to review it and plug the loopholes.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

demasiadochevere.com
It was Manning, too, who embarked on the most ambitious housing programme ever in the country.

Thousands of housing units were earmarked for scores of communities across the country, with the majority of them still under construction when he called, and lost, a snap general election in May 2010, two years earlier than it was due.

As prime minister, his biggest failure from the standpoint of the economy was not being able to start the process of diversifying the economy from its dependence on oil and gas.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

enlasgradas.com
But he was not singular in this regard: none of the others claim success, not even in a limited way.

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© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

elnewyorktimes.com

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

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