`We must make region more capital attractive'
- President Jagdeo
Guyana Chronicle
August 8, 2002

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CARIBBEAN countries need to strive harder to make the region's resources more eye-catching so as to enhance its development.

Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and President of Guyana Bharrat Jagdeo made this call yesterday during his address to a special sitting of the Jamaican Parliament on the occasion of the country's 40th Independence anniversary.

President Jagdeo, who is on a five-day working visit to Jamaica, is among special invitees to the anniversary observances.

Given the changing nature of the world, the region has a responsibility to its people to ensure that all aspects of its resources are fully developed to meet the many challenges, he said.

Some of the areas in which much emphasis must be placed are education, legislation, entrepreneurship and the private sector, trade, unemployment and the elimination of crime.

The President urged that the education system be refocused and driven by a new philosophy.

"We have excelled in the Arts and the Humanities and the Social Sciences and must continue to do so but simultaneously we must produce Nobel laureates in mathematics, technology, and science."

According to the CARICOM Chairman, schools must inculcate positive attitudes in students.

"Our young people must leave these institutions with pride in their identity, positive values, tolerance and respect for others and the general preparation for survival in any environment," he said.

He maintained that the region's success largely depends on the growth and prosperity of its human development.

"Our small economies are incapable of generating sufficient capital needed to fuel our economic growth. It is true that the CARICOM Single Market and Economy will facilitate the movement of capital intra-regionally and this will augment local capital sources. However, our low saving rates will not allow us to generate enough resources to meet all of our investment needs," he noted, adding that governments can assist in this by providing incentives and a national regulatory framework.

"Our legislators also have a role in supporting and accelerating legislative changes. The media can help to project an image that would be more conducive to attracting investment and promoting tourism," he said.

"Without any censoring intent, it is my opinion that some media practitioners must remember that they are also part of the society and that the unnecessarily negative images of the region that are often disseminated will inhibit our ability to attract investment thereby diminishing our ability to resolve the many problems which face us," President Jagdeo noted.

The Caribbean's survival in the competitive globalised arena also relies on the skills of its people to market the region's resources for maximum benefits.

The Guyanese Leader said that the region is lacking in this area.

"The development of the entrepreneurial spirit is essential for economic dynamism, solving unemployment and reducing poverty.

"The primary task now is for our universities, our private sector and governments to collaborate, and design programmes that will instill the entrepreneurial spirit in our citizens and prepare them to take calculated economic risks.

"Our banks and other financial institutions must also do more to ensure that their credit system is responsive to the promotion of entrepreneurship," he said.

Meanwhile, the role of the private sector is not lost, as with some exceptions, it has often been too rigid and too slow to perceive and pursue economic opportunities, the CARICOM Chairman observed.

"In many cases they are averse to risk-taking. In the new environment our private sector must be willing to consider new forms of organisation. It must abandon insular thinking and actions and perceive the synergies and advantages that flow from in- country and regional mergers," he urged.

However, governments of the Caribbean must support these processes and must make a serious effort to become genuine partners with the private sector, as co-operation will allow the region to better face the threats being confronted.

One key to developing the capital is preservation and nurturing of its resources, especially the human resource which has the ability to affect the severe constraints of unemployment, crime and violence.

"We need to stop playing the blame-game and work together to find solutions to these and other social ills. Additionally, we must recognise that strong family values, conflict resolution skills, responsibility for self and love for country are important to the development of society and for remedying many social ills," he said.

According to President Jagdeo, the policy of inclusivity must be practiced by every administration, as governments alone cannot fight these battles.

"We must therefore seek to include everyone in this process. Parents, teachers, churches, communities and other social groups all have a part to play in the moral advancement of our societies," he said.

Political parties, regardless of whether they are governing or not, should also contribute to eliminating these social ills, and their role is a very influential one, the President said.

"We have to create conditions to shift from inherited confrontational politics to politics that serve the interests of our people.

"Irrespective of whichever side of the House you sit, I believe our people want to see their leaders working together. They want to see them confronting and solving the problems that affect them. Government and Opposition must therefore be guided by what is good for their people rather than by partisan interests," he said. (GOVERNMENT INFORMATION AGENCY - GINA)