A POSITIVE SPIN ON CSME!
By Basil Springer
"Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude" - W. W. Ziege - www.quotations.about.com
My column last week on CSME Vision and Action‚ stimulated much interesting response both by email and by random personal comment. Some thought I was realistic and others, probably because of frustration brought on by poverty and lack of significant growth in the region, thought that I should be more optimistic. We all share the vision of prosperity for the region and I was merely trying to identify the constraints to progress and to encourage discussion as to how they may be alleviated.
The random personal comments were all complimentary. I will now share with you email responses which I think are instructive. The first response is as follows:
You suggest a number of reasons why the Single Economy component of the CSME is not a realistic objective. It seems to me though that most if not all of them are issues which the single economy is supposed to address. Isn't it somewhat like a circular formula? Which comes first the chicken or the egg?‚ My issue here is what is realistic. If we pursue unrealistic objectives, then the chance of achieving them is significantly reduced.
The response continued I dare say that the real hindrance is a power group who is disinclined to cede even an inch of power and a process that is far too removed from the so called man-in-the-street‚. It is time that governors and intellectuals break the concepts down into language more easily understood by those who do not have passage in the halls of intellectualism. By the way the very concept that movement of labour should be limited to some special‚ categories smacks of elitism. I wonder what will be the next magic date by which we must achieve the status of a single economy if we are not to be doomed to extinction. The proverbial man-in-the-street‚ must by now be skeptical of the cry of wolf‚.‚ My response is that an Action Plan will alleviate this frustration.
Another response which was sent for my information was entitled Why Caricom SME will not work‚. There was the observation that Guyanese opposed a T&T firm (Trinidadian Ansa McAl's to buy Banks DIH Guyana); what will happen when the interested buyer is not even from Caricom, God-forbid Latin America, US, or elsewhere? Reading this is as if there has been no integration movement in Caricom in the past 40 years. What is going on with our people and our region that such nationalistic (in the most pejorative sense of the word) reaction is made from Guyana to a Trinidad firm? Let's hope for the best but CSME may be too little, too late, despite all the great work you all have done!‚
Yet another response from a Jamaican was: Dear Dr. Springer, I believe a forum of the kind that you and Mr. Carryl participated in at the meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Barbados South would go a far way in other Caricom member states such as Jamaica in helping to get the word out‚ on the CSM in general and the CBET in particular.
If the CSM is to be a viable option for the Caribbean, then an initiative, to inform business persons and entrepreneurs in all the Caricom member states of the assistance available to them, must be acted upon with immediate effect. Otherwise, full implementation of the CSM will, as you so aptly pointed out, remain a vision‚.
The respondent continued: It seems to me that the Caricom Secretariat needs to have a unit or a department staffed with persons who are not only excited about the CSM but also dedicated to the effort of informing all the citizens of member states regarding the CSM initiatives and benefits. It needs persons who are willing to go to the remotest corners of these member states to get the word out‚. There is so much untapped talent and skill in the Caribbean that, if properly channeled, I have no doubt would put the Americans and Europeans to shame in terms of product marketability, usefulness and affordability in the Caribbean.
A fourth respondent said: Our vision of what kind of Caribbean we want for our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren must come from forces within and not forces outside the Caribbean. I believe that OUR true vision is in the creation of One Caribbean, with one political system and one economic space and this is what we should be working towards. It is doable despite all of the difficulties you state. It is doable - and that is the vision I believe we must work towards - One Caribbean. What we should recognize we are doing now is putting the building blocks in place to achieve this vision, which must have a time frame.‚
In conclusion, I trust that we will adopt a positive mental attitude in all that we do to ensure steady progress for CSME and holistic prosperity for our families in the New Year.
(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. (CBET) - http://www.cbet-inc.org