Let us give of our best in 2005!!!
It is my sincere wish that the Season of Goodwill brought you all the joys you wished for and that the New Year 2005 will be the year that you achieve your best self. As the years go by, the Christmas Season is losing its meaning and activities associated with that time of year is lessening in many parts of the world.
It used to be a joy as you walk through to Streets of the cities within the region to hear Christmas Songs and Carols from the various sound systems, almost at every corner. I am fully convinced that those who sought to de-emphasise Christmas have succeeded. What a pity. The atmosphere at Christmas time warmed the body, mind and spirit, and I take the liberty to include emotions. What joy it was to be around family and friends at that time of year but today it is business as usual.
Another noticeable development is the passage of time. The year 2004 has been noted by many to be the year that flew away. It moved so swiftly that in most cases many tasks were left behind with the end result that many have not been as productive as they had hoped to be. Many of our friends and loved ones have left us and have taken up a new citizenship, 6ft under. The saying, live each day as if it is your last, is best said this way – live each moment as it is your last.
We can no longer afford to put off what should be done today for tomorrow. Let us give thanks to the Creator for affording us the opportunity to see the passing of another year in the land of the living and resolve to be better citizens on this side of heaven. My sympathy goes out to those who have lost loved ones during the passing year and I pray that the Heavenly Father will comfort and bless you as you fulfill your purpose in life and celebrate the lives of your loved ones.
As we move forward in the New Year, it will depend on how we see the world. Do we see the world as filled with problems, anxieties, and unsolvable issues or we have we taken a decision to face the obstacles that confront us head on and transform them into challenges and opportunities. Your life can be happy or sad depending on how you look at the world. Dream big, don’t settle for second best, just be the best. The results you achieve in the end will all depended upon the choices you make and there is no better time to start than now. A brand New Year is dawning, reach for the stars, affirm your status and take action. You must do something. If you have done nothing to improve your state, make it your resolve to do something to improve your lot in life this New Year. Step out in faith believing and take coordinated actions to achieve your goal. It will not be easy but it will all work out to your benefit in the end.
The year 2005 will be great for the people of the Caribbean. Many governments will move ahead even earlier than planned to bring about economic integration under the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME) Freedom of Movement of Capital and Labour and the right to establishment will be reality. It is our right as Caribbean/Caricom Nationals to go to any island and set up business and employ the skills needed from any part of the region to ensure the success of the venture. Why has such a noble endeavour taken such a long time to come to fruition??? Could you imagine if we had freedom of movement all these years what level of development would have taken place? Some of our leaders whether dead or alive must be lamenting this lack of will to do what was right then and though late today is still right even at this moment.
Trade is the back bone of all economies but in spite of this fact which we are all in agreement there seems to be a disconnect in term of Government’s assistance to businesses and I mean, Government’s direct financial contribution that will accelerate business activities. Research and Development in Industry, development of special skills should be priorities. We have exported services through the migration of teachers and nurses for many years, yet there is no special programme for training in these areas to meet the demand for such services. In many countries, the remittances from nationals working overseas could be very substantial in providing foreign exchange. Governments of the region must pioneer certain activities and pass on to projects to the private sector wherever practicable. There must be a change in the way Governments of the Caribbean do business. They must now include alongside their social development programme, an economic development programme which will benefit direct budgeted investment in the public and private sectors.
Better days are on the horizon but we must move faster. If we can achieve a paradigm shift in the Governments’ development mode many of us can experience the new reality in our lifetime. Let us give ourselves a real chance to put the Caribbean on a path to sustained progress. The next 3 to 5 years will be critical.
In St. Lucia, the Holiday Season has been very bad for businesses, as many companies Christmas stocks were delayed, some will be arriving sometime in January, 2005, long after the Xmas season has passed. The manufacturing sector was also affected. This situation is due to the oil crisis, coupled with the many strikes at various transshipment ports in the region. It is also important to note that trading has improved substantially and the shipping companies have not necessarily increased capacity to deal with the situation. We keep hearing that containers have been left behind. As we prepare for the Cricket World Cup – 2007 special emphasis would have to be placed on ocean transportation.
It is interesting to note that in many instances when the Caribbean is catching up on a new management system, the rules of engagement change. We were doing well with Just in Time Delivery for our raw materials and finished goods stock, when suddenly the effect of the transportation problem this past holiday season will surely drive fear into the minds of our business community and move us back to tying up capital in stocks and as a result moving the cost of living upward. We hope that the challenges would be favourably resolved in the New Year.
Let us look forward with optimism to a Bright and Prosperous 2005.
Keep the Faith, God is in Charge!
Edward A. Harris