“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 15:13
On Saturday, July 25 I was privileged to be in the audience at the “Caribbean Kaiso Monarchs in Concert” performance, featuring Sparrow, Baron, RPB, Crazy, Gabby, Grynner, John King and Edwin. It was one explosive show and a part of the annual Barbados Crop Over festival. Calypso fans responded in large numbers to the extent that the producers have promised to repeat it next year.
It was thoroughly enjoyable and since then the lyrics and melody of Crazy’s (Edwin Ayoung) calypso “In time to come” keep ringing in my mind. As I woke up to write this column, I thought that this was a fitting theme for what I had in mind for this week’s column. In this Crazy classic, many have heaped kudos on him for the prophetic line “In time to come, America will have a black president”.
In a recent commentary by Crazy he alluded that “In time to come” now has 24 verses. One of his lines follows: “In time to come, there’s going to be an active world government” and, in the Caribbean context, I propose a couple of additional prophecies, namely: “In time to come, the countries will have to unite to survive”. And “In time to come, the national social partners will unite”.
In 1958, my parents announced that we would be moving to Trinidad from Barbados. The reason was the advent of the West Indies Federation which comprised the 10 territories of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, the then St Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, and Trinidad and Tobago. The Federation was established by the British Caribbean Federation Act of 1956 with the aim of establishing a political union among its members.
My father was among the many regional civil servants who were seconded from their respective territories to Trinidad, the Federal capital, to establish this new entity. The Prime Minister was Sir Grantley Adams from Barbados and my father rose to become Sir Grantley’s permanent secretary.
The decisive development, which led to the demise of the Federation in 1962 was the withdrawal of Jamaica – the largest member – after conducting a national referendum in 1961 on its continued participation in the arrangement. The results of the referendum showed majority support in favour of withdrawing from the Federation. This was to lead to a movement within Jamaica for national independence from Britain. It also led to the now famous statement of Dr. Eric Williams, the then Premier of Trinidad and Tobago: “One from 10 leaves nought”, referring to the withdrawal of Jamaica and signifying and justifying his decision to withdraw Trinidad and Tobago from the Federal arrangement a short while later. This also lead to a movement within Trinidad and Tobago for national independence from Britain.
So began the “independence” landslide with all of the original 10 territories which comprised the West Indies Federation pursuing their individual destinies. The exception was Montserrat, the smallest of the territories, which has remained an overseas dependency of Britain up to this day. There has been no other successful attempt at a Caribbean political union which in my opinion has stymied economic growth in the region. Maybe, in time to come.
In 2008, Barbados was one of the few countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) which has formally established a private-public partnership at the national level and I was commissioned by the Economic Commission of Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) to review this Barbados Social Compact experience. I presented a synopsis of my findings at the ECLAC sub-regional meeting of the Caribbean Development and Cooperation Committee in Trinidad in April 2008 and was a panelist at the 60th anniversary of ECLAC in Santo Domingo in June 2008.
Whereas the ongoing operation of the Barbados Social Compact may have resulted in proposals for its institutional strengthening and whereas the then new (2008) political administration in Barbados may have had other proposals, I independently determined that the following recommendations should be considered: (1) integrate the social compact into the governance structure of Barbados; (2) annually review the National Strategic Plan to take into account any changes in the environment; (3) formally establish the social compact as an entity with a specific mission and autonomous operation which is an advisory body to the Prime Minister; (4) monitor the roles of the partners in the tripartite group i.e. the private sector should “do business”, the Government should provide regulatory and services functions, and the trade unions should expand their role to include inducing employer/employee harmony towards increased productivity for fair compensation; (5) promote the concept of the social compact throughout LAC; (6) establish a strong public relations arm so that all persons in Barbados think “smart partnership” in their day-to-day living; (6) expand the tripartite nature of the social compact to include wider representation from national stakeholders; (7) strengthen the internal operation of the social compact by institutionalizing the higher level, lower level, and national consultation groups, so that they are most effective; (8) review protocols with a view to strengthening them as required; (9) appoint a full-time CEO, with highly qualified and experienced supporting staff; (10) fund a budget to adequately manage a centre of excellence in strategic thinking with the best brains available.
Let us all find fulfillment as we go about our daily activities and focus on how we shall each contribute, in a smart partnership, to fostering national efficiency and Caribbean unity.
Prayerfully, the time will come.
(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. – CBET. His columns may be found at www.cbetmodel.org and www.nothingbeatsbusiness.com.)