The likely legacies of Cricket World Cup
Kaieteur News
February 2, 2007

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Yesterday, Guyana and the rest of the Caribbean Community became a single country, at least from an immigration standpoint. For almost a decade the CARICOM Heads began working to have the region become a bloc in the same way that the European Union is a single economic entity with a single currency.

The world knows that individual countries are often too small to command the kind of respect that an economic bloc would. And in addition to the power over the negotiation table there is always the ensuing expanded market. The countries that comprise the Caribbean Community each have their individual production capability.

Guyana, for example is the agriculture giant among the lot. It produces just about everything necessary to feed a nation. There is rice, green vegetables, livestock, poultry and even lumber for the building industry. The other countries are not so blessed.

As single countries they each sought the cheapest source of these commodities, invariably turning to the countries outside the region where agriculture is often subsidised. The regional leaders noticed that their combined expenditure on food was some US$2 billion, money that this region could ill afford to export.

This recognition has led to a revamping of the regional economies to the extent that the countries have established special rates for goods emanating from within their boundaries. This redounds to Guyana's good because the region now represents a larger market that Guyana itself ever could.

Perhaps the major benefit arising from this is that it encourages even greater production. Local farmers who once contented themselves with providing for the local market must now gear themselves to producing for even more people.

The distinct advantage lies in the fact that the greater the area of operation the lower the production cost, thus they become more competitive. And there is more. As they expand their operation the greater becomes their propensity to generate employment.

The economic planners were long aware of this benefit that could lead to the economic expansion of the region. They set about making it easier for people within the region to travel and to seek employment in each other's country as though the region was one country.

Needless to say, the fears arose that people from outside the borders of another country would descend on the more economically viable of the countries and take away jobs by working for less than the residents would. But in just about every part of the world where migration to particular countries was encouraged this has never been the case. The migrants often accepted the lower paying jobs that the residents ignored. The United States, Canada, portions of the Middle East and Europe have not recorded the perceived threat to their residents.

In our corner of the world, there is the free movement of skills and indeed the poorer countries have suffered but this, rather than being a negative, should actually be an incentive for the lesser qualified to step up and replace the lost skills.

But the creation of a single space never materialized despite the best efforts of some leaders. There appeared to be some reluctance on the part of a few. Today, just as how cricket has been the single unifying force in the region for more than seven decades, in the same way cricket once more has led to the creation of another regional institution and has paved the way for further regional integration.

As several Members of Parliament noted, it had to take Cricket World Cup 2007 to make some of the things of which people could only dream, to become a reality.

Because of Cricket World Cup, the countries of the region now have shared intelligence, a shared security force, and above all, a single domestic space. Once someone enters one of the countries it is as if he has entered all. The tedious immigration checks have been eliminated with one stroke of a pen.

Whether some of the conditions created for Cricket World Cup would remain in place is left to be seen. The Minister of Home Affairs believes that the security arrangements would continue until time immemorial. There is also the view that the single domestic space would remain.

If these things continue ad infinitum then the region could boast of inheriting a lasting legacy from Cricket World Cup.