- Sharing and Caring for its Regional Partners!
In an earlier article this year I commented on the fact that never before
has St. Lucia hosted so many conferences and the trend was likely to continue
for most of 2002.
It has to be a clear indication that the leadership of our country is
blazing the trail with respect to bringing the region closer together
and proposing some positive initiatives that are being observed by other
leaders within the grouping.
The recent Heads of Government meeting held in St. Lucia just a week ago,
is testimony to the collaborative mode of our region's leaders.
While there were statements made at the end of the two day conference,
the financial experts are still to put the structure together that will
go beyond helping Dominica. The proposed Stabilization Fund is very necessary
as a first response to countries finding themselves in Dominica's current
Again in an earlier article I expressed concern about the lack of engagement
of the citizens of Dominica in the economic affairs of the state. I visited
that island state about ten months ago and my private sector colleagues
were expressing grave concern about the possibility of the country grinding
to a halt.
Now that the situation is what it is, what can we do to ensure that the
country finds its way out of its present state and begin to sustain itself
in the shortest possible time. We must conclude that the present assistance
which is being finalised is just a stop gap. It is not likely to be an
on going assistance so it is obvious that Dominica will have to help itself
along the way.
Dominicans everywhere must play their part to ensure that the economy
is normalised in the shortest possible time.
In the meantime, something must be done to establish an international
airport. I wonder if Melville Hall could be extended to accommodate small
jets as those used by BWIA.
The need for larger passenger planes to operate the Dominica route in
the short term to provide a shuttle service from Antigua to Dominica using
the type of aircraft that is used by American Eagle. Tourism is the short
and long term hope of economic activity on the island. Something must
be done immediately to explore every opportunity in this regard.
Mr. Edwin Carrington, Secretary General of Caricom was in St. Lucia for
the historic Heads of Government Conference and graced the relaunch of
the St. Lucia Council for External Trade on Thursday, 15 August 2002 with
his presence. His address was very informative and gave many examples
of the dilemma we find ourselves as the negotiations advance towards Trade
Liberalization and Globalization.
On every side of the negotiations we are disadvantaged whether it is taking
place in Europe, North or Latin America. WTO, ACP, FTAA, or whatever else,
we are disadvantaged. Most of all, we cannot afford not to be involved.
It is in this regard that the St. Lucia Council on External Trade is most
welcomed. It is hoped that the local support groups assisted by a full
time secretariat will make a positive contribution to assisting the St.
Lucia delegations to the various conferences they are expected to be involved
with throughout the remainder of 2002 and beyond.
Honourable Julian R. Hunte, Minister of External Affairs, International
Trade and Civil Aviation pledged to involve Civil Society, especially
the Private Sector comprising of the local Private Sector Council and
in particular the St. Lucia Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture.
Mr. Carrington referred to the double negatives of the exodus of our trained
citizens and influx of criminals. He called for governments of the region
to demand that the developed countries give back something to assist us
to train teachers, nurses and other skilled resources.
He cited the Colombia Trade Agreement that while Caricom Exports increased
by 5 million, Colombia's increased by 674 million. He further stated that
donor resources diminished significantly. Our traditional donors have
shifted focus. However, we have some advantages which can reposition us
and he cited the Caribbean Cruise Industry and indicated that the time
has come for our people to invest in this sector. The Caribbean has 50-60%
of the business and 56% of the market cannot be shifted. Overnight port
to port is a special incentive.
We cannot stop the process, we have to adopt to change. We live in a world
that is increasingly less inclined to take care of our needs. We must
strengthen our negotiating machinery - build alliances with like minded
countries. At the domestic level, ensure we equip our people with new
skills. We have something here, build on it, use it.
Private Sector involvement is critical and he encouraged the Private Sector
to provide skills. There is need for new corporate structures. We can
no longer continue to proceed with small family structured businesses.
Mr. Carrington provided the audience with what I consider to be facts
of life, straight talk. I listened to him on several occasions but his
time I sensed a feeling of urgency in his delivery. Many things we undertake
in this region, take too long. I suggest we take a page out of Germany's
The world is no longer a place for individual states, this is the era
of Trading Blocks.
What can we do in St. Lucia to implement the C.S.M.E.? I believe the time
has come for someone to jump start the process, after all it is not about
governments, it is about people - Let Freedom Reign.
Keep the Faith - God is in Charge!
August 24, 2002