“I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ … may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him.” – Ephesians 1:17
Last week it was reported in the press that the President of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Lalu Vaswani, said that the true state of the Barbados economy is not a rosy picture. He lamented Government’s lack of forthrightness on the economy and policies that could lead to lack of confidence as well as anxiety over the future of the exchange rate of the Barbados dollar. As a result he appealed to the Government, the trade union movement and other stakeholders to come together now to rescue the island.
Also, the President of the Barbados Private Sector Association, Mr. Alex McDonald, has been very vocal recently especially as he bewailed the fact that the Social Compact comprising the public, private and trade union sectors have not had a full meeting for more than a year, notwithstanding the current state and uncertain prospects for the Barbados economy.
In my last column we reflected on the success of Singapore. Peter Boos posed the question “What is our problem?” and I intimated that “the answer is blowin’ in the wind”. I do not recall, in the almost 21 years since I have been writing this weekly column, such a spontaneous response to the column with a range of comments from a variety of readers.
I thought that it would be useful to share these responses with you in the order in which they were received. (1) A former Caribbean Prime Minister: “Thanks for this. Very instructive, and a good reminder of certain things.” (2) A spiritual Caribbean soul mate: Brilliant!” (3) Film Director, New York City: “Yes. Tell it like it is; sane, practical and absolutely needed!”
(4) Diplomat: “I believe the fundamental problem is that in Barbados the ladder is not against the right wall, apparently in the case of Singapore it was”. We entered into a brief exchange borrowing from the rigour of the analogy of a medical practitioner’s protocol i.e. (a) Determine the patient’s symptom(s), (b) Conduct an investigation(s), (c) Diagnose the problem, (d) Prescribe a treatment, and (e) Monitor the impact of the treatment to determine whether the problem has been solved. The diplomat concluded the exchange by stating: “The diagnosis is correct (i.e. the ladder is not against the right wall), the symptoms identified are correct, the treatment recommended is correct, but you left out one thing in your suggested protocol – i.e. the patient must take the medicine or undergo the procedure before you get to the evaluation of the results. How are you going to get the patient to take the medicine is the challenge.”
The other responses were (5) A PhD. student mentee from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology whose thesis is on Leadership: “Thank you Basil – so my question almost 20 years on – where do we go from here and your question is still very relevant – How do we change the game? How do we get in the WIND? How insightful?” (6) Caribbean retired Brigadier General – “Excellent piece! Thanks for sharing this most relevant advice – the answer is there if we only remove the blinkers”. (7) Former Caribbean CEO, now consultant: “First column I recall that is tinged with cynicism” – to which I alluded that the inertia must be getting to me. (8) Caribbean consultant: “Good article, especially hitting the nail on the appropriate heads – your reference to the number of ministers (20 plus) in a small island of 270,000 people is perhaps the biggest farce in the region and, of course, the exceptionally feeble role of the local press aggravates the situation much more. After living in Trinidad, Jamaica, St. Lucia and Barbados over the past 13 years, since taking early retirement, there is no doubt that Barbados has the most feeble press among the three countries – (in) Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and one of the Lucian newspapers – these organs call a spade a spade which is what is so badly needed here”. (9) Barbadian advocate for immediate change: ” Who is going to change the status quo? We are all totally fed up but appear impotent! I do not see it coming from the traditional private sector. Too many conflicts and vested interests.” Then he quoted H.L. Mencken: “The most dangerous man, to any government, is the man who is able to think things out for himself. Almost inevitably, he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable”. (10) Global public relations practitioner: “Interesting hornet’s nest you have stirred”. (11) Trinidadian businessman: “A very comprehensive and soul searching article”. (12) A Commonwealth Partnership for Technology Management Smart Partner: “It has been a while! I am now living in Lesotho, we last met in Uganda during the Smart Partnership dialogue. I read your articles with a great interest and passion! The answer is surely blowing in the wind, as your 10 points to Peter was ALL what I believe are Lesotho’s problems! In a nut shell … we in Lesotho need your help!!! God bless!”.
Let us be inspired by the lyrics of Michael Jackson’s “We are the World”.
“When you’re down and out, and there seems no hope at all, But if you just believe there’s no way we can fall, Let us realize that a change can only come, When we stand together as one”.
(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. – CBET. Columns are archived at www.cbetmodel.org and www.nothingbeatsbusiness.com.)