Our social fabric
By Basil Springer

"Our social fabric is evolving. We have become used to maintaining friendships at a distance. Real time communications by phone, internet and travel means that we can now sustain intimate relationships independent of distance. Our village is now defined by common interests rather than common heritage or shared geography" Extract from Humankind's Shared Destiny -

I continue to get interesting feedback to my weekly column. Two weeks ago I wrote about the CSME and the importance of linking the flow of members of the community to a given country with the need to commensurately grow the economy in that country. Last week I looked at a post World Cup vision which is focused on how to derive benefits, when the event is over, from the use of the infrastructure designed primarily for the heavy influx of tourists during the period of the matches.  

There was a common thread in some of the responses which I would like to use to develop the fabric for this week‚s article. By the way, talking about fabric, the new company Exclusive Cottons of the Caribbean Inc. has now gone through the embryonic stages of its establishment and is about to embark on an aggressive strategy to benefit from the net revenues which may be achieved from the sale of 100% pure West Indian sea island cotton products along and at the end of the value chain. A newly appointed CEO is expected to be in residence‚ imminently to spearhead this initiative.  The CEO designate has many years of international marketing experience, albeit in another service area, which will redound to the benefit of ECCI  as it develops its strategies to penetrate  the global market.

The common thread to which I referred above was the need to ensure that there was an optimal partnership between the public and the private sectors in addressing major institutional changes such as the CSME and the World Cup 2007 which have the potential to introduce a quantum leap in the way in which we have operated for many a decade. Some may argue that the recent Bill (The Movement of Skilled Nationals Bill 2004) which was passed in both Houses of Parliament in Barbados recently merely codifies and formalizes an integration process which has been with us for centuries. It is pretty clear that the World Cup event, however. is a unique stimulus to change.

One of the respondents to my column was concerned about the levels of governance which attend the gradual implementation of the CSME beginning with the freedom of movement of a restricted set of individuals.  It must be noted that, even though the implementation of the CSME may be public sector led, it is necessary for all social partners to be involved in the planning process so as to obtain the necessary buy-in which is essential to the sustained  success of this intervention.  

A respondent to the second column was no less a person that the head of the Office of Public Sector Reform (PSR).  He said „Very good article - the post-World Cup vision is indeed important. Unless we build on the impetus and maintain it past the World Cup year we would have collapsed a potentially 'opportunistic platform' for the way forward. Obviously I will continue to promote the PSR programme, as best I can with ideas and support of others, to seize the momentum and sustain it.

I think that the partnership among Social Partners that has been practised in Barbados over the last eleven years has led to a much better mutual understanding of the perspectives, needs, capabilities and actions of the public, private and trade union sectors in terms of optimal governance for an enhanced socio-economic well being of the populace.  

It is now becoming more accepted in the populace in general and among the social partners in particular that the role of the public sector is to „establish policy and to manage regulatory and service functions for the benefit of all‰.   The role of the private sector is to „do business and lead the growth of the economy and that of the trade union sector is to „stimulate the environment among employers and employees to increase the levels of productivity in the public and private sectors for fair compensation‰.  

In the context of a vertically integrated cotton industry in the Caribbean, the CSME and World Cup 2007 and beyond, the extent to which we achieve high levels of governance in each of our countries will dictate the rate at which we achieve sustainable success in each of these ventures.  

The media, over the last two to three years have been exposed to six bi-annual sessions of the Caribbean Media Exchange on Sustainable Tourism. These media personnel have been stimulated by the interactive dialogue at CMEx, as manifested by the increasing quality and quantity of their stories on tourism and tourism linkages.  It is also their major responsibility to be apprised about ECCI, CSME and World Cup 2007 and then communicate with the general populace so that everyone may be informed of the part that they could play in the development of social fabric for these worthy enterprises.

(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. (CBET) -