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Dr Bhoe Tewarie.

Raphael John-Lall

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The T&T Government must take into account the tens of thousands of Venezuelan migrants in its development strategy, according to former People’s Partnership minister and University of the West Indies (UWI) principal, Dr Bhoe Tewarie.

“You cannot ignore an immigrant population of 60,000 people even if they say only 16,000 people are registered. When the Finance Minister presented his mid-year budget review, it is as if there were no Venezuelans are here. The issue of immigrants did not arise in the entire debate by any member of Parliament. I could not believe that was not a factor in the economy,” Tewarie said on Friday night at an online forum on migrants hosted by the UWI Trade and Economics Department.

He also said that there is little Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in T&T and if the country addresses these problems then it would be able to manage the Venezuelan immigration population better.

Tewarie noted that many Venezuelans like working in the agriculture sector and these migrants can be used to develop the local agriculture sector.

“If we had the Venezuelans in the labour market and increased participation, we may be able to resolve productivity issues. Venezuela is not going to be like how it is now forever. Some increased trade between T&T and Venezuela is possible in the future.”

He pointed out that it is not only Venezuela that needs assistance to get out of its problems but also T&T and the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean as this region has the world’s highest inequality rates.

Economist Dr Anthony Gonsalves who also spoke at the forum said that if T&T makes the right decisions, migration could contribute to the country’s economic development.