Not time for petty squabbling Editorial
Guyana Chronicle
February 28, 2002

THE visit this week to Guyana by the distinguished economist and President of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Dr. Compton Bourne is indeed welcome and comes at a very appropriate time.

During a very informative and pertinent lecture last Monday at the University of Guyana on the state of the economies of the Caribbean region, he shared some interesting ideas about how the region should gear itself to face the challenges of a global economy.

He pointed out that with globalisation 'economic boundaries' are disappearing, hence the need for more intensive levels of diversification and utilising the economies of scales of production effectively to create the competitive edge necessary in being successful on the global market.

Dr. Bourne, referring to the need to reduce the cost of producing sugar, suggested that one possible way to go is applying the principle of division of labour, pointing out that only Belize and the Berbice estates in Guyana in the region are producing below the world market price of US16 cents per pound.

He said the possibility could be explored whereby different aspects of sugar production are carried out in the territories where the production costs are lowest - for example, the refining process could be done where energy costs are the lowest. This could similarly be applied to other industries.

Tourism, which is the region's largest industry, also has the potential to diversify, Dr. Bourne contended and identified potential avenues as cultural history, historical sites and bio-diversity, apart from the traditional "sand, sea and entertainment" that characterise the Caribbean's tourist industry.

In this regard, he said, Guyana has huge potential, stating that "few countries have to offer what Guyana has."

Rum, another product for which the Caribbean is famous, has immense competitive potential, Dr. Bourne said, adding that aged rum commands a high demand and lucrative prices on the international market and is an industry that should be developed and nurtured.

He cited the interesting observation of a Barbadian who uses sugar cane for producing rum only.

The CDB President also gave the assurance of continued financial and technical assistance to Caribbean countries in order to enhance their institutional capacity to meet the challenges of globalisation.

In the backdrop of his analysis and suggestions, Caribbean politicians, technocrats and the business community have their work cut out. And as the time for the end to preferential markets is rapidly approaching, they cannot afford to be lethargic.

There is need for decisive measures to be expeditiously implemented in realising the Caribbean Single Market and Economy.

Now is not the time for petty squabbling and pursuit of narrow and selfish goals.

And very importantly of course is the role of politicians, including those from the Opposition, to ensure a stable political environment that is essential for much needed investment and economic advancement.