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AS I SEE THINGS: Governing with anticipation


Brian Francis

AS I SEE THINGS: Governing with anticipation

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Even though no one has the capacity to predict with certainty future developments in the global or local economy, it is fair to agree that with the vast improvements in technology and means of gathering intelligence, information for decision making is much more readily available to those responsible for governing countries all around the world.

Hence, our leaders should be better placed to anticipate events and consequently put mechanisms in place to alleviate the negative fall outs from future occurrences.

While that position adopted by this author may sound ridiculous to some, one only has to reflect on recent developments in the international arena and the reaction of some pundits to what clearly has been classified as significant failures on the part of the most powerful man and country in the world to anticipate what eventually transpired. For example, the massive inflow of thousands of children from Latin America illegally into the United States and the emergence of the ISIS militants in Iraq took President Barack Obama by surprise according to his own public admission.

Given the huge amount of monies spent by the US on intelligence gathering all around the world, the critics of the president are correct in suggesting that he ought to have been able to anticipate these developments and acted more proactively in addressing them.

Even though we in the Caribbean do not possess the financial and human resources that would allow us to gather intelligence to the extent that the US and other more powerful countries can, we nonetheless still have to practise, to the extent possible, the concept of governing with anticipation.

After all, there are many issues that confront Caribbean economies at the moment and to the best of my knowledge we should be in a position to at least anticipate what the implications might be if we fail to act decisively to alleviate any possible threats to our very own survival in the near or distant future.

A good case that illustrates my point is the recent decision by the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago to write to the Prime Ministers of Antigua and Barbuda (as chairman of CARICOM) and St Kitts and Nevis (given his responsibility for health within the CSME) with the hope of convening a meeting of Ministers of Health to address matters pertaining to the Ebola virus disease.

Clearly, given the nature of this disease, we in the Caribbean cannot afford to wait until many of our citizens become infected before acting. Instead, we have to anticipate, inter alia, possible consequences of a serious outbreak of the disease and put mechanisms in place to prevent such occurrences as well as figure out remedial measures. And that is precisely what a meeting of our health officials at this stage can accomplish.

Going forward, that is the sensible approach to adopt with respect to governing as a whole.  Whether it is with respect to health, education, fiscal deficits, debt burdens, economic growth and development, or any other issue of considerable proportions to our region, we have to be able to anticipate developments and act resolutely now in order to mitigate potential problems.

By so doing, the burdens and costs associated with events in the future can be reduced significantly, creating massive savings from both financial and human perspectives.

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