Sir Dwight revisits idea of Barbados/OECS arrangement
The Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank Sir Dwight Venner says the region is in need of a new development model, which he suggests needs to borrow from the Barbados experience as well as that of the nine member Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
Delivering the 15th anniversary lecture of the University in the Community Lecture Series last evening, Sir Dwight underscored that countries in the region were at the crossroads of their development as he presented his arguments under the theme, The Idea of the OECS in the context of a developing Caribbean.
He said the idea and the vision of the OECS could provide the region, “not only with a blueprint of what successful integration can deliver but with an entity which stands as equal with the rest of the region”.
However, he also sees a strong role for Barbados in the region’s future plan.
He explained that “the lead given by Barbados in the development model, augmented and underpinned by a working model of effective integration, would be the center for the states of the Eastern Caribbean and Barbados, which would [also] draw Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Suriname as resource abundant economies.”
Sir Dwight further posited that countries of the Northern Caribbean may also be induced to participate “if this growth pole was powerful enough to realign their economic programmes, to widen market space to what could be a significantly revitalized CARICOM”.
Drawing his inspiration from a paper presented by Vincentian Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves entitled
“The Idea of Barbados”, Sir Dwight likewise compared the development of Barbados as an idea and Jamaica as a brand.
While pointing out that Jamaica, which is endowed with significant natural resources, had developed a well defined brand, he noted that it had failed to be a stellar performer in the economic sphere, while on the other hand Barbados had advanced to a higher level of development as evidenced by international standards in spite of its small size.
Still he noted that the Jamaican and Barbadian experience could not suffice at this juncture in the region’s development.
“The Jamaican brand has not led to self sustaining growth and the Barbados model has either stalled or reached its zenith,” Sir Dwight said.
This, he added, “raises the existential question as where do we go from here in the post crisis era and what is the new paradigm that will lead to further progress as a whole.”
Sir Dwight said the idea of the OECS was different as it outlined “a vision of the future for an all encompassing Caribbean, which would give the region the possibility of achieving its true potential”.
But he suggested that the idea currently lacked formation since, on one hand countries in the OECS were branded as small islands or referred to as the lesser developed countries, despite having attained the highest level of integration
in the region.
“The region must come to grips with this disparaging view of the OECS countries to get over the hurdle of fragmentation and accept not only the idea, but the actual existence of the OECS countries as equal members of the regional arrangement.”
He stressed the OECS brings to the discussion a view of what could have been achieved had the wider CARICOM movement succeeded in some ways.
“It also provides the possibilities that still exist of a mature regionalism, with the idea of Barbados being a vital element to the path of sustainable development. “
Sir Dwight stressed that the idea or vision of the OECS is not only a matter for the nine–member grouping but it is equally important for its Caribbean neighbours, who must fashion new political and economic arrangements.
“It is clear that like Barbados we have reached the crossroads in our development trajectory and we have to a find a new model of development to ensure our survival and progress. The idea or vision of the OECS is critical not only for its member countries but also Barbados and in a different manner the other CARICOM countries individually and for the region as a whole.”
“The significance for the other countries is related to the economic and financial benefits to be derived for prosperous OECS arrangements and for the region as a whole they are the possible benefits to be had from a successful integration arrangement, “ he said.