Ms Penelope Beckles took up her post as Minister of Planning and Development today. In a press release issued today, Ms Beckles thanked the Prime Minister for entrusting her with this task of leading the country towards national development. She also congratulated her predecessor, Camille Robinson-Regis, for her diligent performance during her tenure at the Ministry.

The following is a press release from the Ministry of Planning and Development:

I take this opportunity to extend my greetings to the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago. It is with great honor that I am afforded the opportunity to serve you in the capacity of Minister of Planning and Development. I also thank our Prime Minister, the Honourable Dr. Keith Rowley, for entrusting me with this task of leading our country towards national development. I extend congratulations to my predecessor, the Honourable Camille Robinson-Regis, for diligent performance during her tenure at the Ministry of Planning and Development.

I look forward to working with the staff of the Ministry of Planning and Development in fulfilling the Government’s mandate in the areas of;

·         Vision 2030 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – in spite of drawbacks caused by the Covid 19 pandemic, Trinidad and Tobago is meeting and in some areas has surpassed the commitments made towards the transformation of Trinidad and Tobago into a developed country. Our team at the Ministry of Planning and Development is committed to leading the charge to ensuring that no one is left behind. In keeping with this commitment, we will continue to promote the inclusive participation of all stakeholders in the implementation of and reporting on the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Now, more than ever, we will seek to accelerate and deepen our efforts to build a new post-pandemic society that is healthier, safer, more equitable, increasingly resilient, with more opportunities for prosperity.

  • Innovation – Emphasis will continue to be placed on cultivating domestic capabilities and becoming a knowledge fuelled innovative economy. Specifically, the creation of an enabling environment for the private sector and entrepreneurs to confidently invest and take risks will remain a key component of post-pandemic recovery efforts. Likewise, the adoption of innovative, technology-driven means of mitigating the challenges faced in areas such as climate change, non-communicable diseases, renewable energy, and energy efficiency will continue to be encouraged and advanced. These approaches are anchored in the country’s National Innovation Policy with its focus on designing strategies for driving innovation. The Government of Trinidad and Tobago has partnered with the European Union, the Inter American Bank (IDB) and CARIRI, to establish programmes and funding for the promotion of innovation, which was launch on the 26th October, 2021, and is now about to enter its 2nd phase.

The Port of Spain Revitalization Project – this project is in alignment with Trinidad and Tobago’s National Development Strategy: Vision 2030, of which theme one focuses on ‘Putting people 1st, nurturing our greatest asset’. This also reflects the commitment to support the COVID-19 recovery process as highlighted in the Road to Recovery policy, which articulates goals focused on rebuilding lives and livelihoods, creating a digital nation, improving public health and building climate and environmental resilience among others.

Climate change – Trinidad and Tobago remains cognizant that sustainable development is unattainable without fulfilling its commitments to protect the environment. Our country was the 1st globally, to develop an implementation plan focusing on our commitments under the Paris Agreement, the first to launch a Knowledge Management System and a Monitoring Valuation and Reporting System to support our implementation of climate change initiatives. As such, continuous training of national stakeholders is being conducted in these systems. In addition, we are committed to reducing emissions by 15% by 2030 from business as usual, to an unconditional reduction in public transportation emissions. To date, all public sector transport vehicles have been mandated to use the more environmentally friendly Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) for fuel while the uptake among private vehicles is being closely monitored. The Government also continues to encourage citizens to join this fight of reducing emissions by removing all custom duties, motor vehicle tax and value added tax on the importation of battery-powered electric vehicles. In addition, the Ministry has developed a National Cooling Strategy for the air conditioning and refrigeration sector, focusing on the elimination of harmful gases to the ozone layer.

In the area of biodiversity, we have launched a Biodiversity Information System for Trinidad and Tobago, which will support the tracking, monitoring and preservation of all of our nation’s biodiversity resources.

Urban planning with considerations for more pedestrian friendly spaces as well as enhanced plans for commercial and housing sectors through the development of modern building codes. The electronic construction permitting application system called DevelopTT, as we move towards the complete removal of paper applications for the Town and Country Planning Division’s processes.

The importance of data to support our goals cannot be negated. Transformation of the Central Statistical Office to the National Statistical Institute of Trinidad and Tobago will therefore be another priority for this Government through the Ministry of Planning and Development. Thus far, there have been great improvements to the Central Statistical Office and the management of the National Statistical System. There is more to be done, but the staff of the CSO has made leaps and bounds to improve the CSO’s services.

And numerous other projects in the environment, national monitoring and evaluation, SDG achievement while collaborating with our regional and international development partners.

The Government is committed to continuing the great work to ensure the sustained growth and development of our nation by optimizing the quality of life for all citizens.

Thank you and God’s blessings to everyone.