IT IS NOW BECOMING CLEARER to many in the Caribbean that the only way in which our countries can truly emerge from the relatively weak economic performances being recorded, is to grow and develop along sustainable lines.
What this means is that not only do we need to record higher rates of economic growth but we have to do so, while minimising damages to our physical environment, to ensure that future generations are able to benefit from things such as clean air and fresh water.
Yet, a major challenge facing most countries in the region seems to be the inability to design and implement adequate strategies that can grow and develop our economies. That problem is compounded by the fact that in many instances our economic fundamentals are weak, leaving those in authority with fewer and fewer options with which to pursue economic progress.
After all, any country that is burdened with, inter alia, huge fiscal and debt problems, high unemployment, weak institutions to facilitate growth, low export competitiveness, and a depreciating currency, will generally find it more difficult to execute growth-enhancing policies. Irrespective of the difficulties faced, the essential point is that to achieve any reasonable level of growth rate in the region, our countries have to find ways to increase economic activities.
Often, the fulfilment of that objective requires massive injection of funds into major sectors and industries such as agriculture, manufacturing, tourism, international business, education and health. As important as these areas of economic activities are, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that more investments are clearly needed in other areas such as sports and culture.
Having just witnessed the conclusion of the CARIFTA Games in St. Kitts and Nevis and noted some of the amazing talent that was on display, I am indeed convinced that the Caribbean can benefit tremendously from the development of track and field, in particular, and sports, in general, as a major area of economic activity.
By its very nature, sports offer great opportunities for linkages with other sectors/industries in the economy such as health, agriculture and tourism. Hence, the development of sports as another engine of growth and development of Caribbean economies would be a feasible option given the vast amount of economic activities that can be generated both directly and indirectly.
And the truth is that such an undertaking would not be without precedence. After all, the Indian Premier League, the English Premier League, and the National Basketball Association are examples of massive success stories in sports that have been able to generate billions of dollars in economic activities from earnings, particularly in the area of broadcast rights.
If Caribbean countries can develop sports to such an extent, can anyone doubt the potential economic benefits? Isn’t it time that the people of the Caribbean be released from so much taxes imposed upon them in an effort to raise much needed revenues for governments?
Clearly, one way to resolve that problem is by growing our economies through increased economic activities. The development of sports clearly offers us that luxury. Why wait?