Wednesday, 11 July 2012 02:31
By Dr. Isaac Newton
Since it inception on July 5, 1983, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) has used its resources impressively. It has met its obligation in monitoring monetary policy and assisted governments in managing risks.
Without exhausting its possibilities, the ECCB displayed acumen in raising consciousness about fiscal efficiency. By providing quantitative and qualitative tools to facilitate economic forecasting, the Bank’s yearly review of the economic performance of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) has nudged citizens to think about various approaches to socio-economic development of the sub-region.
Today, the Bank continues to help finance ministers manage debt. It still provides tools for governments to navigate capital markets. And it pilots helpful public education and awareness programmes.
In fact, the effectiveness of its community outreach initiatives is credible. Above all, the Bank has protected the international value and kept confidence in the EC dollar peg to the US dollar at a parity of EC $2.70.
Despite the ECCB’s direct and indirect investments in the social success of the sub-region, some view it as a refuge that conceals political underdevelopment. Whereas the Bank has advocated for productive investments behind closed doors, one has not yet heard its voice condemning unproductive investments by regional governments with short-term bread and butter needs.
Perhaps it is because the OECS has a high tolerance for quiet solutions. What’s even more worrisome is that we haven’t moved beyond our addiction to a culture of dependency, which constitutes the very foundation of our inability to advance ourselves.
At the 72nd meeting of the Monetary Council held in February, leaders committed to fresh insights and new pragmatics. These are likely to unlock the financial bowels of our people to produce balanced growth.
As the Bank seeks to help the leaders overcome the shattering changes confronting the union, here are five critical things it can do in these recession times:
* Provide immediate short-term financial help to various priority sectors agriculture, export, and small business to help them circumvent the crisis. The Bank’s presence should be flexible to the economic growth and political stability of the union.
* Reach out to the talent pool of the diasporas via long-distance or in person consultancies, and invite our brightest and best minds to become more engaged in regional advancement through sweat equity and exchange of intellectual capital.
* Devise a comprehensive model for finding synergy with transnational corporations. Assist governments to see beyond jobs creation to value proposal. Help public official and entrepreneurs exploit sustained industries that can be linked to tourism, research, green energy, and financial services in order to harness national resources, and increase revenue generation along the way.
* Inspire thought leaders and grassroots intelligentsias to delve into the potency of our resources (brilliant people, food feeding land, unexplored medically induced plant life, sun, sea, and natural beauty) to make long-term investments that can create capital.
* Design internships for finance ministers to tease out the best macro economic approach to sustainable development of the union, and provide operational frameworks of accountability, transparency and inclusiveness to identify the best talent required to achieve fiscal flexibility and economic goals.
The only way to create new momentum is for the ECCB to take governments and people on a development action plan. This requires a specific process that will induce political will and collective energies, and it will take personal meditation and institutional boldness to lead us to brighter days.
Perhaps the answer to the logic of politics is in harnessing the logic of economics. According to Winston Dookeran, former finance minister of Trinidad and Tobago, power, politics and performance in the Caribbean is about leaders finding durable solutions.
Dookeran argues that Small Island States can take advantage of a knowledge based world, by drawing on effective regionalism, financial structures and inspirational leadership.
I could see the ECCB focusing more on optimal development, on building safer regional alignment, and on executing follow-through success in the 21st Century. Perhaps this undertaking will instill in each one of us a mind-set to achieve greater things.
Dr. Isaac Newton is an International Leadership and Change Management Consultant and Political Adviser. He specializes in Government and Business Relations, and Sustainable Development Projects.
Dr. Newton works extensively, in West Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America and is a graduate of Oakwood University, Harvard, Princeton, and Columbia. He has published several books on personal development and written many articles on economics, education, leadership, political, social, and faith based issues.