Avoiding the Resource Curse Paradox – The Inaugural ADB Seminar
Ebrima Faal, Regional Director of the African Development Bank, Gayatri Ramkissoon, High Commission of Trinidad and Tobago and Ewart Williams of Trinidad and Tobago
Ewart Williams of Trinidad and Tobago inaugurated the African Development Bank (ADB) seminar series for Southern Africa in Centurion, Pretoria on March 4 2013.
His topic ‘Avoiding the Resource Curse Paradox – Experiences of Trinidad and Tobago’ was appropriate as many African countries are now discovering energy resources in their countries.
Trinidad & Tobago has the second highest per capita income in the Americas second only to the United States of America (USA). Its economy is driven by natural gas and petro-chemical exports. Its social indicators still lag behind according to some reports as pockets of poverty still exist.
William’s sharing the experiences of his country suggests that the current discussions in Trinidad and Tobago have moved away from ownership to how to maximize the benefit of the resources for the local economy.
Tapping the brightest and best engineers, geologists and other experts to formulate policy and paying them well will serve any country well when it comes to bargaining with multinational energy corporations advised Williams.
He pointed that fiscal policy, institutional reforms, the development of the Non-Oil/Gas sector, local participation and stabilization as factors that would determine the maximum benefit to the local economy. He also pointed out the challenges of institutional capacity, procurement, subsidization and others which could lead to waste, corruption and lack of competition.
Ewart Williams served two five years terms as the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Trinidad and Tobago and was instrumental in the establishment of the Heritage and Stabilization Fund which was set up to protect the country from the volatile energy sector. He suggests that market forces are not enough as market failures occur far too often.
Ebrima Faal, Regional Director of the African Development Bank, thanked Williams for inaugurating the seminar series and announced that more seminars are being planned for the year.