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PM Outlines His Vision of Partnership Between State and NGOs

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Contact: John Emmanuel

Tuesday, June 24, 2003 - Prime Minister Honourable Dr. Kenny Anthony has been highlighting what he sees as the role of the NGO movement and Civil Society in establishing global linkages, which can bring about changes to the lives of Caribbean nationals.

Speaking at a Caribbean Policy Development Centre (CPDC) meeting in St. Lucia last week, that grouped over two dozen NGOs as part of the run-up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Abuja, Nigeria in December this year, Dr. Anthony expressed the view that the NGO movement was well placed to spearhead the transition of democratic expression, agitation and participation, from the local to the global stage. Instead he noted that the NGO movement and by extension civil society in the Caribbean, had been pre-occupied with the notion of being in opposition to the state.

“We saw this very clearly in St. Lucia in the early 1990s when the organized groups of banana producers engaged in an unyielding episode of militant action against the local State, yet they failed to alter the reality of trade liberalization and market adjustment in Europe which was the essential source of their problem,” said Prime Minister Anthony.

According to him, “there is very little that one can say to the farming community in St. Lucia that will convince them that what has happened in Europe is the fundamental explanation for the plight of banana farmers throughout the Windward Islands and indeed the Caribbean as a whole.”

Dr. Anthony noted that for regional NGOs to maximize their contribution to development and democracy, a new maturity in their relationship to the State must be developed. That maturity he said would call for a rejection of suspicions and prejudices fed by external agents and instead replaced with a commitment to identifying common solutions to joint problems.

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