Published On: Mon, Jan 13th, 2014

Optimism in the midst of despair

Melanius AlphonseOnce again, the Caribbean region and, more precisely, the islands of Dominica, Saint Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada, are stuck at the crossroads. The passage of the Christmas Eve trough, an unusual weather system came in broad daylight with torrential rainfall. It came at a time that is synonymous with the celebration of the birth of Christ the King - Christmas.

No one paid attention and no one seemed to be too concerned, thinking that it was just rain in the tropics, since it was not accompanied by high winds and not in the hurricane season. The Christmas Eve trough caused extensive damage to people and infrastructure in the islands. A conundrum that may very well simplify biblical stories and raise the realization that, indeed, the region has a tall order to climb! But not one that is impossible to rise above and to succeed.

As mysterious as the sign of the times, this perhaps is a message that inclusiveness and cooperation is an option to help cultivate the region’s creativity and innovation; because, it is senseless for a nation to fail as a result of its leader’s greedy, selfish and ignorant knowledge of history!

However, absent a quantum leap of faith, it is necessary to package the region in a consistent manner that is principled and focused.

Enough has been done to tolerate procedures that result in creative destruction. From propping up weak institutions, to holding on to outdated equipment that produces low efficiency and the bureaucracy of government that impacts the political environment. Against this backdrop it is difficult to expect a favourable economic output. Actually, the expected result is a disaster-prone region without a plan. A lost cause that has resulted in grinding the region’s economy to a halt at a major intersection, not knowing where to turn, and who to call! A situation that has not only characterized the region’s inability economically to get things done in real time but also pointed to political stagnation.

Despite being in the midst of despair, there is a reflection of reality to lift thousands of people out of poverty and away from the fear of violence. Away from a situation that is dubious, degrading to humans, couple with the arrogance of Marxist idealists that threatens the region.

Correcting these institutional weaknesses is not a walk in the park, but the possibility exists that reform and continuous thought process towards improvement can bring about change. A change agenda that would get on with the difficult decisions within the region and the effective execution of practical ideas for long term solutions!

The time has come for results that are driven by quality, lower cost and efficiency that reward risk-takers. Not activity for the sake of political intent and for the sole purpose of controlling the narrative with consultants holding the hands of politicians, thus creating a grand illusion!

There has to be a scene of dignity and pride and the reestablishment of the edifice to persuade the public to change that commands the public respect and their struggle to maintain a decent life.

No government can unite or build a country on its own. No amount of economic power play, egocentric personalities, or nuisance can achieve the task at hand. The financial and human resources of the region are by far the most critical task at hand that requires the combined synergies of business, politics and a cultured people’s way of life.

A good part of that approach is economic growth and prosperity that will have to rely on a bi-partisan approach to governance, national security and liquidity in the marketplace. With priority on the islands superstructure and infrastructure development.

Evidence hints that diversity in the workforce is an effective way to meet some of these challenges. But in order to have an inclusive workforce, skills development, human development and good public policy is a necessity. Also, the environment must be conducive to attract and retain talent, and conducive to skilled immigrants for productivity growth and technological advancement, to build a better regional community.

Moreover, rather than the trend of keeping people trapped in isolation via illiteracy and in a cycle of poverty, seeking an earthly messiah, the populist deserves better, more efficient services, and clean government with vibrant participants for sound engagement. Together with reform that will mushroom the replacement of short-term influence with long-term interest.

On another level, those with the ideas don’t have the ability, and those with the ability don’t have the desire. As such, significant partnerships, cooperation and alliances will be required to work towards the goal of turning good ideas into successful enterprises that spread into a wide cross section for nation building.

Therefore, while exploring the case for doing business, public reform, legal reform and the strong rule of law can address the significant barriers to new growth models and begin to explore the challenges of inequality and economic uncertainty and a more equitable society.

This is not a complex undertaking as it might seem. The willingness to undertake this necessity is really what matters. Because, when innovation and creativity finds the right mix, capital begins to flow, entrepreneurs take risks and are usually rewarded, thus creating economic prosperity.

But in building that platform, worthy craftsmen and thinkers with ability and a strong business friendly approach to economic rejuvenation of the region are most needed, to roll out a strategy of stability, experience, creativity and innovation. Working together as one region with capital and resources capable of very impressive results!

Indeed, there are far more beautiful days ahead to make the most severe weather storm turn into good, and to nurture relationships that will blossom as the universe routinely ensures that the sun rises in the east.

As a living legend of Canadian hockey Wayne Gretzky said, “You can’t score goals if you don’t take any shots.”

Everyone has that opportunity to score goals, to turn innovation, creativity, cooperation, passion and genuine commitment into winning opportunities. Likewise, the opportunity to regroup the Caribbean region as a premier epicenter!

However, this will not be realized on the pursuit of the 1930s compensation plan that relives people’s fears and dispositions of that era. It is time to impact the region differently by scoring goals with a fresh voice of reassurance that will advance the Caribbean region out of the bogeyman slumber of corruption, poverty and unemployment.

The next stage is to embrace the creation of a broader appeal towards the development of a region that is recognized worldwide for its superiority.

Melanius Alphonse is a management and development consultant. He is an advocate for community development, social justice, economic freedom and equality; the Lucian People’s Movement (LPM) critic on youth initiative, infrastructure, economic and business development. He can be reached at

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