Caribbean needs new development vision, says Barbados opposition leader

“We have gone through all kinds of experiments over the last 50 years (spanning) industrialization, import substitution, opportunities that balance the desire to bring people out of poverty but constrained by old structures of production and in more recent times the new neo-liberal vision that has rendered us susceptible to the dilution of local vision and empowerment enfranchisement through foreign capital and foreign investment being the primary mechanism through which production is obtained in our countries,” said the outspoken politician.

Addressing the recently held 3rd CARIFORUM-EU Business Forum hosted by the Caribbean Export Development Agency in collaboration with the ACP Business Climate facility (BizClim), Mottley conceded that there had been gains from the perspective of lifting some people out of poverty and in the modernization of some aspects of society.

“But the rate at which the gains are coming and the risk of pauperization for too many of our people who have made it is real and it therefore causes us to ‘take fresh guard again’,” she declared.

Endorsing views expressed by former Jamaican prime minister and regional negotiator, P.J. Patterson, Mottley said the risk of fragmentation of the region was real, coupled with the threat of people becoming insular and myopic “and neither of them will bring success to us in the region and we have to recognize that however it may appear to be expedient to focus on national affairs is in fact a recipe towards undermining not just national entities but as a regional collectively.”

Underscoring that people had to be at the centre of the development process, Mottley declared that the sectors that will carry the region to the next level of development were all based on human capital with each citizen being capable of achieving the most they can through education, exploitation of opportunity and their rich and creative capital.

She said governments and businesses needed to ensure that their actions support and coincide so that people in the region have the opportunity to be the best they can be — “to become global citizens anchored by strong regional traditions and values.”

The former Barbadian deputy prime minister said initiatives designed to create wealth and allow for the transformation of the people of the region had not succeeded, “and it is ironic that the very solution towards achieving that wealth comes not simply from the importation of foreign investment… Not from accessing aid but comes from us putting policies and programmes in place to allow our very citizens to be engines of the wealth that we want to create for sustainable growth in the region.”

She told the Caribbean business leaders who are looking at ways to boost export to recognize that “the world is not going to wait on us.”

“Too many countries are capable of leapfrogging the Caribbean region because technology has made geography and distance completely irrelevant in a way it was not 40 to 50 years ago,” she said.

The third CARIFORUM-EU Business Forum is organized by the Caribbean Export Development Agency in collaboration with the ACP Business Climate facility (BizClim). The ACP Business Climate Facility (BizClim) is a programme of the ACP Secretariat financed by the European Union under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF). It aims at fostering a business-enabling environment for the private sector in ACP countries and regions by improving legislation, institutional frameworks and financial measures.

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