NTAC Moves to Restore T&T’s International Productivity Rating

November 9, 2017: The philosophy of Productivity is oversimplified. It is an extraordinary complex issue which must be measured within the framework of Total Factor Productivity: specific selections of multiple corporate inputs, if the desired outputs are to be achieved.

This is the message shared with the members of the National Tripartite Advisory Council (NTAC) by Dr Terrence Farrell, Chair of the Economic Development Advisory Board and himself a member of NTAC, when the Council met on Tuesday November 7th for the sole purpose of commencing deliberations on the subject ‘Productivity and Work Ethic’ in Trinidad and Tobago.

The issue is being addressed by NTAC with a view to recommending to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet the steps which need to be taken to restore Trinidad and Tobago’s average annual productivity level to a status better than that which the Country previously enjoyed among leading countries of similar sizes.

T&T’s Status Compared

Among the countries with whose Average Annual Growth Rates of Productivity Dr Farrell compared Trinidad and Tobago were Ireland, Singapore, Norway, New Zealand, Panama, Mauritius, Costa Rica, Barbados and Jamaica.

Trinidad and Tobago’s rate dropped from 5.9% during the period 2000 to 2010, the highest among these countries to 0.5% during the period 2010 to 2016, the lowest among the same countries.

Dr Farrell was the main exponent of a Team of three who delivered presentations on the subject to NTAC members.

His presentation was the result of a study done jointly by the Economic Development Advisory Beard and Dr Jeet Kadhan of the IDB.

The other presenters were Mr Vincent Cabrera, one of JTUM’s Representatives on the Council and Nr Keston Nancoo, Chairman of the ECA, himself a private sector Representative of NTAC.

Six Priority Issues

The subject of Productivity and Work Ethic is one of six national issues to which NTAC is currently giving priority attention.

The others are

  • The Socio-economic impact of Retrenchment including Retrenchment and its impact on the industrial relations landscape.
  • Initiatives to bring outstanding wage negotiations up to date.
  • Government Bureaucracy and its impact on Competitiveness.
  • Income Inequality and
  • Review of Labour Legislation.

The subjects all fall within the Terms of Reference of NTAC which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley on March 15th, 2016.

In making his presentation Dr Farrell alluded to the fact that one of the shortcomings in most public administrations is the mistaken assumption that one cap fits all, stressing the point that each institution, department or Ministry of Government must have its productivity levels measured independently in keeping with in its own portfolio specific inputs as opposed to the use of a single measurement criteria applied corporate wide. He indicated that the same should obtain in the Private Sector.

Labour in full support

Mr. Cabrera, in his presentation, reminded the members that the issue of productivity was one which had always been at the forefront of the Labour Sector’s approach to the successful conduct of industrial relations, a discipline which he lamented was seen, for far too long, within the context of a very narrow and limited perspective. He asserted that one of the pitfalls was that productivity was being viewed simply as the input of the worker.

He highlighted the fact that, in most instances, the matter came up for discussion only when workers representatives were engaged in negotiations, and that, even then, the issue was applied only to the workers and not the management.

He joined with Dr Farrell in calling for the other critical factors to be taken into account emphasising the need for the conduct of a public education programme on Total Factor Productivity which will go a long way in shedding light on the complex nature of the philosophy.

Mr. Nancoo gave the meeting an overview of the extensive volume of work which has already been done on the subject with a view to ensuring that NTAC benefits from this body of work, citing the ECA as a reservoir of such documentation.

Recommendations for the Prime Minister

The three members all concluded their presentations by making a number of specific recommendations with respect to the way forward.

These will be deliberated upon at another special meeting of NTAC to be held on Tuesday November 21st following which NTAC’s recommendations will be forwarded for the consideration of the Prime Minster.

The meeting was held under the Chairmanship of the Chair of NTAC, the Hon Camille Robinson-Regis, Minister of Planning and Development.

In attendance was the Chair of the recently appointed National Productivity Council of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr Marlene Attzs who participated actively in the deliberations.

 

For more information contact:
NTAC Secretariat
663 6968/754 5234

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