By Timothy Woolford
In 2009, the Conference of the Economy (COTE) opened itself up to a key component of development of Trinidad and Tobago. This was done by inviting participation from CAPE students – who must be seen as the future students in the Economics undergraduate programme. In doing so, the COTE essentially welcomed young people into the intense discussion of development. This has given them a valuable opportunity to connect economic concepts from the CAPE syllabus with challenges and problems in the economy as well as to see themselves as part of bigger picture. It is hoped that these future leaders keep in mind the idea of what true development is. They must be the perpetuators of these discussions and issues that are put forward through COTE.
This year’s COTE will feature a debate competition which will take place on September 29th, 2011, one week before the conference begins. Like the COTE, the debate will be held at the Learning Resource Centre, UWI St. Augustine. The COTE will also feature an essay competition targeted at secondary school students across the country. These competitions, like the conference, seek to bridge the gap between economics and the people. They develop and create an awareness of economic theories in the younger generations, which in essence, make the subject come alive for them. These new components of the Conference promise to provide an even greater sense of enlightenment and in their own way also keep with the aim of encouraging meaningful dialogue so that solutions can be advanced.
The theme of this year’s conference is “Managing in a Volatile Economic Environment – Addressing the Challenges before us.” It promises to provide an enlightening experience for the audience. This year also sees Dr. Eric St. Cyr joining the company of men such as Dr. Trevor Farrell and Dr. Roy Thomas as a distinguished honoree at the conference. Dr. St. Cyr worked closely with Lloyd Best on his final publications.
At COTE 2007 Dr. St. Cyr produced his paper, “Trinidad and Tobago – The Case for Onshore Transformation,” which posited that the Trinidad and Tobago economy was yet to experience its transformation. He cited the misunderstanding of the Plantation Economy as a key component of this. Dr. St. Cyr asserted that historically, Trinidad and Tobago was primarily driven by external forces, which in turn, caused it to have massive vulnerability to external shocks. His solution was for the focus to shift from the offshore sector to an expansion of the onshore sector. He believed that the investments necessary to develop the offshore sector will come on its own and questioned why we should be putting more of our surpluses in that direction.
COTE 2011 takes place from October 5-8, 2011 at the Learning Resource Centre, UWI St. Augustine.