PM: Investments coming from Ghana, India

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Dr and Mrs Rowley at the Shree Siddhivinayak Temple in Mumbai on May 18. – Photo courtesy Dr Keith Rowley’s Facebook page

THE Prime Minister says his visits to Ghana and India last week were not a vacation.

Dr Rowley identified new investments coming from both countries as something TT could look forward to in the not-too-distant future, arising from these visits and other work that Government has been doing quietly in the background.

He made the comments at a news conference at the VIP Lounge, Piarco International Airport on Sunday.

On May 7, Rowley travelled to London en route to Ghana to celebrate King Otumfuo Osei Tutu II’s 25th year of ascension to the Golden Stool and reign as King of Asante.

He was accompanied by his wife Sharon and Foreign and Caricom Affairs Minister Dr Amery Browne.

On May 15, Rowley arrived in Mumbai, India, on the invitation of the largest private sector corporation in India – Reliance Industries Ltd.

The company, owners of the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket team, the Mumbai Indians, is collaborating with Government on establishing a cricket academy in TT.

At a news conference at the Office of the Prime Minister, Whitehall, St Clair on April 18, Rowley said a parcel of land in Trincity was earmarked as the location for this academy.

He said Reliance and local interests approached Cabinet with a proposal for the academy.

“What (Reliance Industries) needed from the Government was land. The Government has made the land available and we’re now waiting for the investment to progress.”

Rowley said, “They sent an architect down to see the site and he’s designing the facility, so we hope to move to an investment stage in the not-too-distant future.”

Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan and Sport and Community Development Minister Shamfa Cudjoe-Lewis were in India with Rowley.

As he provided details about his visits to Ghana and India, Rowley said, “There are some people who believe that when the prime minister is abroad he is on holidays or vacation.”

He added, “Let me tell you something. If we stay inside of TT, listening only to the nonsense that is spoken by uninformed people, we are going to end up in a situation one of these days when we don’t have enough to put on the table for the people of this country,”

To prevent that, Rowley said, “We have to look ahead. Look way down the road. See what we are doing. Support what is going well. Prune off what is withered. Sow new seeds and be available to those who can help us, either through investment or speaking for or with us.”

As a member of the cabinet of former prime minister Patrick Manning, Rowley reminded the media that a decision was taken long ago about the need to look outside of TT’s borders for new development opportunities.

Referring to local and regional initiatives Government is pursuing, he said, “We are doing everything that we can within the border. But there comes a time when you begin to understand that there are limits to what can happen within your own border, especially if you have been a trading nation and your fortunes and your revenues have largely been influenced by international trade.”

TT, Rowley continued, has spent the last decade growing its presence in Ghana which has a market of 34 million people and is the gateway to a larger market on the African continent.

“We have had some successes and disappointments.”

He recalled that TT initially tried to position itself to provide services to Ghana when it got involved in natural gas production some years ago.

“Unfortunately, there were some people in TT who did not understand it and we lost that opportunity. We did not give up.”

Rowley disclosed, “There is a contract in the pipeline very close to being signed and we literally have to work our way through to the point of signature.”

He added, “Hopefully in the not-too-distant future, one of our local companies will conclude that arrangement and begin to get involved in the way that we had anticipated many years ago.”

Rowley later identified the company as Phoenix Park Gas Processors Ltd, after indicating that a Ghanian business delegation would visit TT in early June to explore potential commercial opportunities which both countries could pursue.

That delegation will include officials of the Ghana’s state energy company, Ghana National Gas Company Ltd.

Rowley said the potential for future TT-Ghana economic collaboration is further bolstered by Republic Bank’s presence in Ghana and a recent trade mission which Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon.

He was equally enthused about the investment which Reliance will put into its proposed cricket academy in TT.

Rowley said this would create opportunities not only for the development of cricket domestically but West Indies cricket as a whole.

He thanked former national cricketers Kieron Pollard and Dinanath Ramnarine for the roles they played in Reliance inviting him to Mumbai.

While the visit was supposed to be low key, Rowley said the status of the visit was elevated when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi learnt about it.