INDUSTRIALIZATION IN TRINIDAD & TOBAGO SINCE 1950

8. Ownership of Industry

The Industrialization policy as we have already seen, rests on dependence on foreign capital. Local capital is quantitatively and strategically insignificant. Data based on a Pioneer Manufacturing Study covering 52 of the 63 establishments, undertake n in 1958-59, showed that only 16.3 per cent of the capital in pioneer industries was in establishments locally controlled in 1959 Lewis had argued that local businesses would constitute an increasing share as time goes on. The data suggest the contrary. Indeed, instead of local businessmen ” learning the tricks of the trade” and entering the field, it appears that they have been retreating into less productive activity, such as real estate and gambling.

In keeping with the country’s overwhelming dependence on the U.K. and U.S., an overwhelming proportion of pioneer capital came from these two sources. Of the total capital invested, foreign capital contributed over 83 per cent, 80 per cent from the U.S. and U.K.

It is this overwhelming predominance of capital supplied from the U.S. and the U.K. which in large part accounts for the widespread unemployment amidst reasonably high investment. The adoption of technology from these two metropoles has resulted in a much lower labour capital ratio than is to be found even in the imitative operations of local concerns engaged in similar field s of activity. The Report explicitly notes the persistent pattern that “locally con­trolled establishments are less highly capital intensive than foreign controlled establishments”. It further notes: “the tendency towards lower capital utilization by locally controlled establishments seems to be a feature common to all size groups shown above … In comparable industry groups, locally controlled establishments use a smaller amount of capital per worker than foreign controlled”.

Thus after some fifteen years of attempted industrialization ”by invitation”, the goal is still far from view. Repeatedly, the policy has been defended on the grounds that it is too early to form a judgment of its merits. In the meantime the population contends with large-scale and chronic un employment, and the government with widespread disenchantment.

• Edwin Carrington is a member of the West Indies Project Team and the Centre for Developing Area Studies, McGill University and Chairman of New World Group, Montreal.