Basseterre, St. Kitts – The disruptive nature of electoral politics in the eight Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) nations continues to inhibit their long-term development, Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), Sir K. Dwight Venner said last week.
And Sir Dwight is proposing that political and civil society forces in the individual countries agree on a long-term development plan that remains constant even if there is a change in the ruling administration.
“We have a five-year political cycle and, as is per normal, after three years, then we get into the election mode. So, in effect you end up with three years. But that is not a bad thing in and of itself. But what I am saying is that in a country, there must be social and cultural mechanisms to get a consensus going so that when one government succeeds the next, they don’t throw everything out because of the societal agreement,” Sir Dwight said during the ECCU economic Review.
He said that ECCU nations must therefore find the common areas on which there is political agreement and set time-bound developmental goals. “And so you can eliminate some of the things that we disagree on. But we have to have a general gaol so that if there is a change, I don’t see any massive ideological divide between people who organise themselves into different political parties.”
He said that since ECCU nations are not like Singapore — where a single party has been in power for 40 years — or communist China, there must be “some form of internal consensus on the issues that are important to the country”.
“And that is a social mechanism that we have to strive for. It won’t happen overnight … but people create for themselves, if they want to progress, these means of social consensus.”
He further spoke of Holland, where the government, the private sector, and labour unions have agreed on a developmental path. “Governments change and they have coalitions but there is a path. Because they understand that they have to have this social cohesion in order to have competitive economies and for us, new to independence … you have to decide these things.”
Sir Dwight said that since the ECCU nations are democratic societies, “it is placed upon us the responsibility to form those consensus-making arrangements”.
“And we are not stupid people so we can do it. … We have to say ‘It is necessary and we have to find a way to do it.’ Otherwise, … 2020 is a pipe dream. But it can’t be because people live in these countries and have to survive in a competitive world. And we can’t be doing our own thing and the rest of the world is marching ahead…”
The ECCU has set 2020 as the deadline for the achievement of its developmental objectives.
“These objectives will have to be carefully spelt out in terms of growth, employment and the benchmark of the human development indices. We then need to develop the appropriate policies, bearing in mind that in developing countries such as ours policy-making is a cross between an art and a science and involves making judgements and correcting mistakes,” Sir Dwight further stated.