Address by Dr. The Honourable Kenny D. Anthony 2005 CLICO Awards Ceremony
COPING WITH FEAR, ANXIETY AND DISTRUST
ON THE EVE OF THE SINGLE MARKET AND ECONOMY
DR. THE HONOURABLE KENNY D. ANTHONY
PRIME MINISTER OF ST. LUCIA
2005 CLICO AWARDS CEREMONY
SANDALS GRANDE HOTEL, ST. LUCIA
MARCH 12, 2005
In some ways, the apprehension is paradoxical. For years, it has been said that Caribbean people are ready for integration, but the politicians are not. It would now appear that the aspirations have been reversed. The political directorate is ready, but confronts an anxious citizenry. How then can we overcome this fear and anxiety? How can companies like CLICO, a household name throughout the Caribbean, help to reduce and conquer this fear? How can CLICO be put into service of this enterprise, the Single Market and Economy?
Neither the CSME nor the CCJ should inspire fear and distrust.
The CSME and the CCJ are both momentous in their import, but they are far from revolutionary. Within CAR1COM and more particularly within the OECS, nations have systematically, incrementally and progressively thrown off the yokes of a colonial past, only to find a new economic freedom. But freedom, unchained and unchannelled, is a fractious thing. We must therefore, now seek to transform and consolidate that freedom into meaningful progress along the path of economic, social and political sustainability.
This sentiment was eloquently expressed as far back as 1983, by Edward Seaga, then Prime Minister of Jamaica, when he argued that:
Though it is quite natural to be fearful of the future, we must not allow that fear to paralyse us into inaction, that like Hamlet we think upon the deed so much and lose the name of action. We must instead examine and dismantle the fear, distrust and anxiety by addressing those concerns that hold us apart. For the most part those fears are insular. Where for example, some citizens have come to distrust local justice, we must seek ways to improve their circumstances, by improving access to adequate representation, and by improving accountability and transparency in the justice system.
STATEHOOD TO SELF-HOOD
Speaking in the same vein about the viability of the state as well as the region, the centre as well as the periphery, President Cheddi Jagan of Guyana similarly proclaimed:
Our task in the interim, is to prepare our respective constituencies for that inevitable transition towards open regional competition. Consider in that context, that this is only a prelude to the global competition which awaits soon thereafter, in the face of which we will be almost defenseless.
If we are to evolve, politically, economically and socially, the answers to our development issues must come from within. While we can learn from the experiences of others, we cannot expect others to fashion our future for us. The creation of a single economic space is akin to the enlargement of the field of dreams within which Caribbean people can continue to aspire.
Its principle tenets are the free movement of goods, capital and people in search of opportunity, reward and empowerment. The unacceptable alternative is to give way to the prejudice and cynicism that often precede bold initiatives, and which in retrospect, almost always translate into minor irritations when the ultimate goal is clearly in sight. Similarly, the creation of a Caribbean Court of Justice is one such goal. It is the definitive statement by a modern, liberated and self determined people to finally accept responsibility for the administration of higher justice within their homeland.
It is my own view that to continue to hold fast to a system where the highest arbiter of justice is our former colonial master, is to deny ourselves the dignity of self-determination. It is a shameful admission of a fundamental lack of faith in our selves and our ability to administer the very Independence for which so many have struggled and died.
Such a system is inimical to our aspirations of maturing nationhood. It flies in the face of our conceptualisation of our selves as a maturing Caribbean nation. To hold on, out of fear to such a system while claiming to be masters of our destinies, is clearly absurd. Indeed, the concept of having to apply to powers beyond our shores to determine ultimate legal outcomes is akin to grown adults depending on disinterested parents for final validation of their lives.
We must, at the very least, perceive ourselves as masters of the small circumferences that we inhabit. That would be a first step towards a Caribbean society so uniquely confident that it becomes a new development model of great interest to the rest of humanity. This is not utopia. For centuries, our people, by their ideas and achievements, have repeatedly given us a stature in the world that defies our supposed limitations as small island economies.
Why then do we still doubt our ability to administer the full scope of our justice and economic systems? Why then do we resist the formal integration of markets that are, otherwise already inextricably linked? Why, when we know that by dint of external processes of liberalisation and globalization we must combine forces to survive?
The late Errol Barrow offered a similar view:
(7th Meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government: Georgetown, Guyana: July 1986)
INTEGRATING FOR EONS
HOW CAN CLICO HELP?
This brings me to CLICO and I return to the question I posed earlier. How could CLICO help to reduce fear, apprehension and distrust towards the Single Market and Economy?
First, CLICO must continue to be unambiguous about its self definition. It is a Caribbean company, not a Trinidadian, Barbadian, Antiguan or Saint Lucian company. Plain and simple, CLICO is a Caribbean company which belongs to the Caribbean people. Your calendars are statements of that philosophy.
Secondly, CLICO must begin the process of sharing and integrating its personnel across our region. The St. Lucian portfolio cannot and must not be exclusively Saint Lucian. Likewise, the Trinidadian portfolio cannot be the exclusive domain of Trinidadians. The management of a Caribbean Company must be integrated vertically and horizontally. Every worker in a Caribbean Company should be a worker in the cause of the Caribbean Community.
Thirdly, CLICO is a living example of the success of a shared economy. A shared economy is not a single market or a single economy. But CLICO has had years of experience investing in our region and economy. CLICO understands market size; how to transcend boundaries real and imagined. CLICO has always accepted that viability is best assured by moving beyond the confines of one’s borders. That experience must be freely shared.
All of this is to convey a simple message. All of you here tonight must join the cause of shaping our Caribbean Community, our Caribbean Nation. CLICO must be a Champion for the Single Market and Economy.
Ladies and Gentlemen, as Caribbean people, we will always move in response to our most fundamental needs: kinship, culture opportunity, love, and adventure. It is time to forge ahead undaunted by bureaucracy. It is time that we celebrate that common identity nurtured by those persistent pioneers who sought their counterparts across that bountiful Caribbean continuum which Walcott describes as “miles of cerulean silk” in a “Star Apple Kingdom”.
I thank you!
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