Trinidad and Tobago Ministry of Planning and Development
A profile from the office of the Honorable Camille Robinson-Regis, Minister of Planning and Development
Business View Caribbean Magazine profiles the Trinidad & Tobago Ministry of Planning & Development for our focus on Economic Development in the Caribbean
For the last 10 years, the mission of the Ministry of Planning and Development has been the sustainable national development of Trinidad and Tobago hinged on the enhancement of statistical data through the Central Statistical Office, spatial development and planning via the Town and Country Planning Division, environmental sustainability, socio-economic policy planning, national heritage and innovation, among others. An ambitious and ongoing mission that is certainly showing positive results.
The Ministry works closely with national and international partners i.e. other government agencies, NGOs, the United Nations, European Union and Inter-American Development Bank to implement policies, programmes and projects to the benefit of all citizens not only for the current time frame, but for generations to come.
The Ministry has a staff size in excess of 600-700 persons from contract staff, public service professionals, consultants and specialists plying their skills in all of the areas mentioned above. Some of the key specialized areas of priority for staff include project management, change management, physical planning, project monitoring and evaluation, policy analysis, business analysis, economics and in areas of support such as HR, accounting, law, corporate communications and others.
The Ministry also supports many of the other government agencies in their major projects and programmes and helps guide their fiscal/capital expenditure. One essential role of the Ministry of Planning and Development is the management of the Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP). The PSIP is a strategic development planning tool utilized by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to support the nation’s social and economic transformation agenda.
It represents the capital expenditure component of the National Budget, which includes spending that goes into the creation of the country’s assets such as schools, colleges, hospitals, roads and bridges as well as specialized socio-economic programmes. Securing and maintaining the nation’s assets is a key contributing factor to national development as the Government’s efforts to improve productivity through smart and quality infrastructure is fully articulated. Every year, projects and programmes are funded by capital expenditure to also ensure that the Government is keen on attaining their goal of putting people first-human capital formation, through the provision of proper facilities required for education, health and overall wellness.
Many of the projects of the PSIP create employment and foster socio-economic well-being. The Planning and Development Ministry works with all Government Ministries to develop the policies, plan the spending necessary, administer the PSIP budgets and negotiate with international partners for financial and technical support to make national development happen. The transformation of the Central Statistical Office (CSO) to the National Statistical Institute of T&T through this ministry is one project to ensure the necessary national data needed for evidence-based decision making and coordination of the national statistical system can be enhanced. A strong National Statistical Agency such as the CSO is vital to build investor confidence, ward off economic downgrading and ensure that the right decisions are made to assist the right people, address the right issues at the right time. Having a strong statistical system has placed T&T in good standing with the World Bank and other institutions that assess the credit rating of nations.
Through the Ministry’s Town and Country Planning Division, the construction permitting process has been automated and is being digitised to allow contractors, developers and citizens enhancing their properties to do this more easily, in a transparent and efficient setting. The platform used is called DevelopTT. The main aim is to increase the ease of doing business in T&T, not only for locals, but for foreign investors as well. The construction sector continues to be one of the positive areas for economic stimulation, therefore a system such as DevelopTT will enhance and accelerate the pace at which approvals are sought and make the process more easily navigated to get projects from idea to reality.
In November 2020, the Ministry signed on to two major initiatives to support national competitiveness and innovation through our mantra of sustainable development.
- A national manpower plan, focusing on the needs of businesses now, as well as the needs of businesses in the future was agreed to with UNICEF. This will focus on the current state of the job market and the education system with the need to prepare students from primary to tertiary levels for the world of work and for job creation as well. This is expected to be completed in 2022.
- A TT $64 million competitiveness programme was also signed with the European Union (EU). This initiative aims to support the enhancement of an innovative and competitive economy in Trinidad and Tobago through economic transformation. The Programme, entitled “Support to a Competitive and Innovative Economy in Trinidad and Tobago”, was developed through a partnership involving the Ministry of Planning and Development, the European Union and the Inter-American Development Bank, with the Caribbean Industrial Institute (CARIRI) as the key implementing partner. This Programme is in line with the National Innovation Policy 2017-2020 and is designed to drive economic growth and jobs in a socially and environmentally sustainable way.
The Honorable Camille Robinson-Regis, Minister of Planning and Development, sums it up best, “We are working for the collective support of the nation to plan and operationalize the future we want for ourselves and generations to come. We are also focused on achieving sustainable economic growth through greater diversification of the economy as well as improving the social conditions and quality of life of citizens in an inclusive and environmentally sensitive manner.”
Looking to the future… notable projects
- Climate Change: The Planning Ministry is the first in the Caribbean to develop and pilot test a Climate Change Mitigation Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) system to assess our progress in meeting our commitments to the Paris Agreement. This will be rolled out in 2021, enabling the collection of data needed in government and industry to cut our carbon emissions to earth saving levels.
- The Ministry is working with the Urban Development Company of T&T on a project called the Revitalisation of Port of Spain, which aims to breathe new life into Trinidad and Tobago’s capital city in culture and arts, spatial planning, design, renewable energy, digitisation and technology, as well as tourism and residential capacity. This was launched in November 2020 and funding via the PSIP has been allocated for the enhancement of the Port of Spain General Hospital, various tourism projects, the UNESCO City of Music initiative of which Port of Spain has been designated and more.
- The automated construction permitting system called DevelopTT was piloted in Port of Spain, which is the North Regional Planning Region and environs in March of 2020. In 2021, the Planning and Development Ministry will continue the implementation in the South Regional Office, the East Regional Office and the Tobago Regional Office until coverage of the entire island is achieved. However, the priority for 2021 still remains using the feedback from users as part of the project to ensure the product is flawless and will achieve the goal of easing the process of doing business in Trinidad and Tobago.
- Commencing the initial stages of the manpower plan is a priority. Through consultation, the baseline data has to be confirmed and the gaps understood in order to ensure that by 2022 the plan can be successfully developed.
- Starting the roll out of the competitiveness and innovation programme with the EU is also a high priority, as economic transformation through diversification away from oil and gas is a top agenda item for Trinidad and Tobago’s government.
For more information on the Ministry of Planning and Development’s initiatives, visit: