As 2015 has ended and we have started the journey onwards in 2016, one would hope that this year would bring progressive thinking in both the personal and public personas. Having said this, my journey in 2015 was one where I discovered more things about myself and in the process, it aided me to become a much better and stronger person, more strong than I was before since I usually doubted myself in most areas of my life. Last year was a year of closure of all of the negative things in my life, especially things that made me unhappy, one of them being my previous job. I realised that prioritising my happiness was what is best for me. Many people journey through life searching for happiness only to have it elude them as they believe that it can be found in money, material things or relationships. However, we deny ourselves the chance for happiness by not doing things that would make us happy. I have started to prioritise my happiness daily and I must say, I am the better for it. Thanks Dr Raj aka Happysmarts!

Anyway, so after a turbulent year in my country of Trinidad and Tobago, when the previous government, in the run up to elections, saw it fit to spend money like there was no tomorrow or rather help themselves to monies like there was no tomorrow and lying to the country stating that everything was all right when it was not because we were already in a recession but the good old Governor of Central Bank in his infinite wisdom decided that the best time to state that the country was in recession was when the new government came into power. This ploy was to done to show that the new government had put the country in this state. However, because they perceived the citizenship to be fools, they assumed that we’d fall for the crap but obviously not. Everyone knew that the old administration knew the country was in recession while they were in power but denied it until the end. Now we have to implement stringent measures to get us back out of the rot that the previous administration got us in. Even in the midst of falling oil and gas prices, they still spent money lavishly and still wanted to spend even more.

In his address to the nation a couple of days before the new year, the prime minister outlined the grim situation that the country is facing and the manner in which they are attempting to address these issues. Each option focused on trying to preserve as much foreign currency as much as we can while at the same time depend on other areas to make up for the losses that we are currently incurring with less exports of oil and gas. However, what was not mentioned was new wealth generation. What steps are we taking as a country to generate new wealth, to be innovative? What research has been done that we can use to boost the economy instead of redistributing wealth?

Entrepreneurship is important in generating new wealth and new wealth is what the country needs. For far too long we have depended on oil and gas and saying that ‘God is ah Trini’ believing that the oil and gas would never run out or oil prices would ever fall again. We have so many young people graduating from university with degrees and not enough jobs to go around. I am positively sure that these young people have million dollar ideas but just need someone to back them up to get them started. I can’t see why we can’t design our very own smartphone, create some unique apps, focus more on security and privacy especially in light of the recent hacking that took place in RBC Royal Bank. Instead, investors prefer if a foreigner comes to us pitching the same idea and then shake their heads and say “Oh yes! Yes! That is brilliant!” and wilfully hand over their money when a homegrown individual pitched that same idea before and it was denied. It’s as if they do not want anyone else to get wealthy, while creating meaningful employment for others and stimulating the economy. Oh well!

Or seriously market our national instrument, the steelpan and really get it out there. Develop more local content for television showcasing our culture, our language. There are so many things that can be done but we are stuck in this rot of not being more open minded to new things. One such is marijuana. If we were to legalise that, think of how much revenue that would bring in for the country as well. I am pretty sure that crime would be reduced considerably. I mean, we have the ideal climate for growing it, why don’t we get in the action now? Even Rihanna is seeing the viability of this and is releasing her own personal brand of the herb.

As we move forward in this new year, the government really needs to sit back and take a lot at ways in which the country can generate NEW wealth and stop redistributing the limited resources that we have because the rich just keeps getting richer and the poor and working class (because there is no middle class), well, keep having less money to do stuff. Let other people get a slice of the pie and in doing so, open up a whole new world of opportunities for the future generation. Let us not perpetuate this cycle of go to school, get a degree and fall into some job that we don’t really like doing but let’s produce jobs that people find true meaning and purpose in, something that makes us feel as if we are truly contributing to developing both ourselves and society.