“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” – Psalm 119:105
Major General (Ret’d) Joseph Singh, my Guyanese colleague, often responds to my weekly column with encouraging remarks. Last week was no exception and I begin by sharing his sentiments in full.
“Your column is a refreshing contribution to the concept of ‘thinking outside of the box’ and implementing innovative methods to chart a way forward towards sustainable economic growth, livelihoods enhancement, and maximum utilization of existing resources.
“Your proposal for disruptive innovative models to catalyze economic development should have resonance among citizens of CARICOM member states who have had their fill of the ‘same old, same old’ rhetoric.
“It may be worthy of consideration to apply the same disruptive innovative model to achieve a concatenation in governance by merging political parties in parliament with civil society representatives in order to catalyze the lethargic decision-making process and to monitor the implementation process.
“The CARICOM Charter for Civil Society which was crafted by an eminent persons panel, including Knights Ramphal and McIntyre, is languishing because political leaders are wary of ceding ‘power’ which they perceive as having been given to them on a platter at election time and are dismissive of any attempt by the ‘disruptive civil society elements’ – trade unions, the churches, youth and women’s groups, and the Fourth Estate, to revolutionize decision-making and prompt transformational change.”
Each of us, as we observe systems that work well, will find that sustainability is a result of vision, innovation and change.
Have we noticed how the Information Age has gradually effected change over the past 55 years? I remember when at University we stored data on punch cards and lugged heavy boxes of cards around. Today, my smartphone gently reminds me when I need to extend my capacity in the cloud to back up my data. A disruptive innovation model.
Have we noticed how Health City Cayman Islands has gradually effected change over the past three years in the Caribbean? Three years ago Caribbean nationals often had to travel primarily to the United States to access the highest standards in tertiary care, if it could not be provided at home. Today, Health City Cayman Islands is a Caribbean hospital delivering a new model of high quality, affordable healthcare with a constant flow of patients coming from the nations of the Caribbean and Central America and growing at an exponential rate. Another disruptive innovation model.
Joseph Singh is appealing for change at the CARICOM level. The CARICOM Secretariat is not a regional government, it is not a federal government, it is not a political union, it is an administrative and advisory body which serves several individual governments in the Caribbean region. It has no power but it could be proactive and attempt to exercise influence by giving advice.
In this context, the innovative measures that the CARICOM Secretariat could promote to each of its member states are as follows: (1) Merging political parties with civil society. A simple concept. Why spend energies in opposite directions, as if in a “tug of war”, when the energies could be spent in the same direction in the national interest. Switzerland is an example and to some extent Singapore.
(2) Combing financial resources. The Government has the power to innovatively collect taxes to provide services to the populace and also can provide innovative incentives so that private sector capital can be invested efficiently to grow the economy. The Government also has to reduce expenses and innovatively secure loans to restructure the economy.
(3) An expert communications strategy is mandatory so that the government, unions and the private sector can communicate efficiently with the populace. Innovative public-private partnerships can do this well.
(4) An innovative system of local government can cumulatively effect significant progress towards national efficiency and growth.
(5) Finally, the government, the private sector and the unions must promote increased productivity. The abundance mentality must be nurtured which will lead to sustainability and happiness.
Let the CARICOM Secretariat provide an innovative role to guide Caribbean governments along a new and productive path. Stay tuned in prayer for divine guidance, often cloaked in disruptive innovation, which will be the light to our feet and shed light on our path