By Basil Springer
“With upright heart he shepherded them and guided them with his skillful hand.” – Psalm 78:72
Over the last three years Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley’s vision, intellect and wisdom has projected her on the local, regional, international scene as an individual who is well-equipped to lead the indigenous Caribbean in implementing solutions which will take the region to the pinnacle of sustainable success.
Her Sunday, October 3 press conference was no exception as she seamlessly addressed COVID-19 management and many topical issues.
The Caribbean nations are too small to be governed efficiently as individual legal and political entities. Caribbean financial risk management has suffered from centuries of European colonial exploitation and neglect. Marketing the Caribbean brand to the world, even in the tourism, entertainment and sports sectors, leaves much to be desired. Collaborative innovative disruptive holistic capital partnership initiatives have not been mobilized to drive our economies. Our people are our most important asset, we must develop them to the fullest.
Let us change our thinking from CARICOM (18m population) to Caribbean (40.5m population) distributed over four heritages – English (6m), French (11.2m), Dutch (0.8m) and Spanish (22.5m).
Let us adapt the “benevolent dictator” leadership style of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew, where fearless decisions are made in the people’s interest and the country grows. This is in contrast to the legacy of a postcolonial soft democracy strategy where the “tail wags the dog” and progress “spins like a top in mud”. A commitment to action-oriented democratic governance is necessary.
My limited knowledge of political science posits that the Barbados Labour Party, with a massive majority in the Barbados parliament, could call a snap election now as the Democratic Labour Party is still in siesta mode, and easily get another five-year term with a comfortable majority.
Immediately, the Prime Minister could start making firmer decisions in the interest of the people of the country without having to worry about the political risk occasioned by the utterings of small groups.
The success of these decisions may then be good examples to other political jurisdictions in the Caribbean.
She could then work on giving her ministers more autonomy, eventually appoint a new leader, and focus her intellect on leadership of a Caribbean coalition for the ultimate mutual benefit of all the Caribbean nations.
Prime Minister Mottley’s warm embrace of her African brothers and other world leaders; Professor Sir Hillary Beckles’ reparations charge to former European colonial masters; and the leveraging of billions of private sector dollars lying dormant in the Caribbean banking system will provide a nucleus of funds to address Caribbean financial security.
Marketing the Caribbean is about satisfying the needs of our residents and the needs of those who visit our shores.
The prime need now is to rid the Caribbean of COVID-19 related challenges led by an aggressive vaccination program in the midst of anti-vaccination propaganda.
The Barbados government, with a new political mandate, could focus on scientifically-based vaccination practices, as was the case for a number of vaccines when I was growing up in the 40s and 50s, with minimum political risk and in the interest of all residents and visitors.
The slogan “VACCINATE: You may save your own life” should be aggressively placed in the vanguard in parallel with the building of Caribbean brand initiatives.
The future Caribbean economic profile can be resplendent as we develop in the areas of Services, Industry, Agriculture and the Blue Economy.
We ought to develop all individuals and support entrepreneurship. And alas, shepherd them with thy skillful hand.
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