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Trinidad and Tobago Country Brief

Development Progress | Challenges Ahead | World Bank Assistance | Project Achievements Contacts



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Trinidad and Tobago, a twin island State of 1.3 million people, is a country rich in cultural diversity and natural resources that has one of the highest per capita incomes (US$13,340 in 2006) in Latin America and the Caribbean. The economy is largely based on oil and gas, which currently account for 40 percent of GDP and 80 percent of exports, but only 5 percent of employment and the country has become a major financial center in the Caribbean. Trinidad and Tobago is a leader in the Caribbean regional integration effort, including the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Single Market Economy, which went into effect January 1, 2006. 

The current administration, resulting from the November 2007 elections and led by Prime Minister Patrick Manning, enjoys a parliamentary majority with 26 of the 41 seats in the House of Representatives. The government’s main challenges are the high incidence of violent crime and rising food prices. Governance indicators, as measured by Transparency International and the World Bank, have shown deterioration in recent years. The oversight and accountability of the executive is improving, but some weaknesses remain. Steps are underway to improve governance and the efficiency of public service delivery. The national media is active and the authorities disseminate a significant part of the policies and outcomes, through the media, brochures, and the web.

Growth in Trinidad and Tobago has averaged 6 percent per year since 1994, among the highest levels in the Latin America and the Caribbean region. In 2007, the economy grew by 5.5 percent, compared to 12 percent in 2006, fuelled by high oil prices which also created substantial fiscal and balance of payment surpluses.  The government has pursued an expansionary fiscal policy to fund infrastructure, education, social programs, and national security, leading to a deterioration of non-oil fiscal balances. With this effort the authorities aim to improve social indicators, which remain at about regional averages.

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Trinidad and Tobago aims to become a developed country by 2020. The Vision 2020 development plan, prepared through an inclusive process, articulates the five pillars of the strategy to be followed: 

(1) developing innovative people,

(2) governing effectively,

(3) enabling competitive business,

(4) nurturing a caring society, and

(5) investing in sound infrastructure and environment.

To achieve the goals set in the Vision 2020, Trinidad and Tobago would need to accelerate the ongoing steps to diversify the economy. This would require improvements in competitiveness and public service delivery of services. The country’s Social and Economic Policy Framework 2006-2008 defines as the government’s medium-term priorities to expand educational opportunities at all levels, improve access to health and housing, strengthen security, and enhance the environment for private investment, while maintaining a stable macroeconomic policy framework. The country’s challenge is to develop a national consensus on how to utilize the abundant revenues from the energy sector to build a solid base for sustainable development.

Trinidad and Tobago also needs to continue the process of strengthening and improving the legal and regulatory framework in order to facilitate economic and social transformation. Another challenge relates to the evolution of the political environment, which in recent years has become more ethnic-based, and the rise in domestic violence and kidnappings. To address these issues, the government has adopted plans to strengthen governance and continue ongoing decentralization processes, while fostering more inclusive growth. Given the political polarization in the country, it will be important to build and maintain a national consensus on a shared vision and development priorities.

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World Bank assistance to Trinidad and Tobago to date amounts to US$384.6 million in loans, credits and grants, which includes 34 projects in the areas of education, health, water and sanitation, and public sector, among others.

 The current World Bank program consists of one active project with a total commitment of US$20 million: 

  • The HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Program: The project is funded under the Multi-Country Adaptable Program Loan for the Caribbean Region, with the following objectives: (i) curbing the spread of HIV/AIDS epidemic; (ii) reducing the morbidity and mortality attributed to HIV/AIDS; (iii) improving the quality of life for persons living with HIV/AIDS; and (iv) developing a sustainable organizational and institutional framework for managing the HIV/AIDS epidemic over the longer term.

Regarding analytical work, a Financial Sector Assessment Program by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund was completed in February 2006.  

Assistenace chart

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The Basic Education Project (US$51 million) was designed to enhance the quality of education, reduce disparities in the education system and achieve an effective and efficient management of the education sector. The project improved access to preschool, primary, and secondary education, and enhanced the quality of teaching. Six curricular areas were reformed (five were piloted) and teachers received training in these areas. In addition, 474 teachers and principals completed the B.Ed. in Education at the University of West Indies. Library materials and textbooks were purchased and distributed, benefiting about 110,000 low-income students. The textbooks are owned by the schools and lent at no charge to low-income children. The project had a significant impact on improving school environment quality and upgrading school facilities, such as libraries, computer rooms, sport facilities, and concert halls.

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To obtain further information on World Bank activities and programs in Trinidad and Tobago, please contact Michael Corlett, Country Officer, ( or Alejandro Cedeno, Communications Officer for the Caribbean, ( at the World Bank Headquarters in Washington DC.

For more information on World Bank assistance to Trinidad and Tobago, including lending breakdown and project reports, see:

Proposed Projects
All Projects

Updated in September 2008


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