Caribbean News Now!

About Us Contact Us

Countries/Territories

Jump to your country or territory of interest

Advertise with us

Reach our daily visitors from around the Caribbean and throughout the world. Click here for rates and placements.

Contribute

Submit news and opinion for publication

Subscribe

Click here to receive our daily regional news headlines by email.

Archives

Click here to browse our extensive archives going back to 2004

Also, for the convenience of our readers and the online community generally, we have reproduced the complete Caribbean Net News archives from 2004 to 2010 here.

Climate Change Watch

The Caribbean is especially vulnerable to rising sea levels brought about by global warming. Read the latest news and information here...

Travel


Follow Caribbean News Now on Twitter
Connect with Caribbean News Now on Linkedin



News from the Caribbean:


Back To Today's News

Commentary: Caribbean in greatest crisis since independence
Published on November 16, 2012 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Sir Ronald Sanders

“Make no mistake about it. Our region is in the throes of the greatest crisis since independence. The spectre of evolving into failed societies is no longer a subject of imagination. How our societies crawl out of this vicious vortex of persistent low growth, crippling debt, huge fiscal deficits and high unemployment is the single most important question facing us at this time”. That is not an assessment of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to be taken lightly. It is an assessment by a Caribbean prime minister who has also had the advantage of serving as legal advisor to the CARICOM Secretariat.

sanders.jpg
Sir Ronald Sanders is a
business executive and
former Caribbean diplomat
who publishes widely
on small states in the global
community. Reponses to:
www.sirronaldsanders.com
Dr Kenny Anthony, the prime minister of St Lucia, delivered this appraisal to a meeting of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry on October 31.

The prime minister’s statement is so important to the present crunch in which CARICOM exists, and so crucial to its future path that one would have expected it to be a matter of discussion at all levels of society in the 15 member-states of CARICOM. Yet, beyond its brief reportage in some of the regional media, attention to this grave warning died almost immediately after it was spoken.

The reasons for the absence of widespread discussion including by the regional media, is probably because the Caribbean public has become accustomed to inaction by regional governments, institutions, and private sector organisations. Few would doubt the importance of what Prime Minister Anthony said and the urgency of addressing it. But all appear unconvinced that anyone will act decisively to change the situation. So, the appraisal – alarming and forceful as it is – evokes little more than resigned weariness in Caribbean publics.

This is a worrying condition for the CARICOM region. For, if the public has lost faith in the willingness of governments and institutions to act swiftly and together to extract them from crisis, the consequences will be even more serious. They will include increased emigration of the skilled persons in our societies, shrinkage of investment by local business people, and a general malaise in the productive sector. In short, it will lead to a worsening of the crisis.

The sad aspect of all this is that every leader in the member-states of CARICOM, in its institutions and in the private sector knows very well that deeper integration of Caribbean economies and closer harmonisation of their external relations would be an immediate stimulus to pulling CARICOM countries out of what Dr Anthony rightly describes as “this vicious vortex of persistent low growth, crippling debt, huge fiscal deficits and high unemployment”.

What each CARICOM country needs is not more nationalism, but more regionalism. This is not to say that they should form a Federation or political union, though, for the record, let me say it would be the best thing they could do. But, they have to stop operating as if, by themselves, they individually have the capacity either to deliver the public goods required by their people or to bargain effectively in the international community.

Again, Dr Anthony crystallised this matter in his remarks when he said: “The issue we face is that our institutions, whether at the level of the state or supranationally, have not kept up with the times. This is the reality check that should have hit us, thanks to 2008 and the world financial crisis. And again, if we are to observe and learn from another epicentre of integration, Europe, this process is no simple undertaking, but requires unwavering commitment. What was also clear from 2008 is that we were still spending too much time using our integration machinery dealing with our insularities instead of charting an outward response to the looming global realities.”

Well, what are some of those looming global realities with which CARICOM countries should be concerned?

Food security: CARICOM’s food import bill now runs into billions of dollars and will escalate in the coming years; the fragility and cost of regional air transportation to support tourism and the absence of region-wide sea transportation to facilitate trade in goods; competition within the region from external nations, such as European exporters, who under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU) will, over time, be landing goods and services and even opening businesses that will compete with local companies putting some of them out of business and reducing government revenues from tariffs; continuing erosion of preferences that certain key commodities from CARICOM countries have enjoyed, in the past, in the EU, US and Canadian markets; reduction in aid because, except for Haiti, CARICOM countries are regarded as middle income countries, and a continued restriction from concessional funds from international financial institutions for the same reason; the effects of global warming that demand adaptation infrastructure to stop sea-level rise from drowning huge parts of many countries, dislocating human habitats and destroying tourism infrastructure and agricultural production; and the lack of capacity to bargain effectively with larger countries and financial institutions on investment, trade and debt.

The list of issues identified here is by no means exhaustive, and they require bold thinking and courageous decision making -- including a resolve to pool sovereignty regionally -- to make each country stronger. Prime Minister Anthony diagnosed the ailments of the region accurately, though he stopped short of prescribing the medicine for curing them. But, he hinted at it when he said: “When appropriate, CARICOM must have the power and the resources to lead, setting both the objective and the tone of the dialogue, followed by a greater intensity of action”.

There are many countries and agencies that are ready to help the countries of the region to progress, but they know that, apart from Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and perhaps Guyana because of their natural resources, none of the Caribbean’s countries can survive -- let alone prosper -- without the economies of scale and the bargaining strength that comes from deeper integration. As Prime Minister Anthony counselled, “the spectre of evolving into failed societies is no longer a subject of imagination”.
 
Reads: 3749





Click here to receive daily news headlines from Caribbean News Now!



Back...

Comments:

No comments on this topic yet. Be the first one to submit a comment.

Back...

Send us your comments!  

Send us your comments on this article. All fields are required.

For your contribution to reach us, you must (a) provide a valid e-mail address and (b) click on the validation link that will be sent to the e-mail address you provide.  If the address is not valid or you don't click on the validation link, we will never see it!

Your Name:

Your Email:

(Validation required)

Comments:
Enter Code



Please note that, if you are using an AT&T domain email address, e.g. att.net, bellsouth.net, sbcglobal.net, the verification email will likely not be delivered. This is outside of our control and the only remedy seems to be for readers to complain to AT&T





Disclaimer
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment author and are not representative of Caribbean News Now or its staff. Caribbean News Now accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Caribbean News Now reserves the right to remove, edit or censor any comments. Any content that is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will not be approved.
Before posting, please refer to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

The Caribbean Writer 2014


Other Headlines:



Regional Sports: