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EDITORIAL: Owning a stake in our country


EDITORIAL: Owning a stake in our country

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Two weeks away from the celebration of another anniversary of our Independence we have had a timely reminder of how far we have come in a very short time. Dr Henderson Carter’s timely lecture reminded us that we have only had parliamentary democracy since adult suffrage in the early 1950s.

Even so, to say that we have come a long way since 1966 may be an understatement given the strides that we have made as a country whose social and political history since then has been characterised by free and fair elections, smooth changes of government, and a highly educated workforce which has allowed us to punch above our weight.

Historical reflection, even if only at the anecdotal level, would show us that the very hands which, in the past, would have been planting sugar cane under the most brutal and dehumanising of conditions, are now writing computer programmes, managing millions of dollars for the common good, and helping to plant tourism and providing congenial employment instead of back-breaking and soul-wrenching toil.

In all of this we cannot forget that our father of Independence spent an extraordinary amount of time speaking to us about getting our hands on the commanding heights of the economy. We have yet to understand the critical significance of his exhortation, but recent happenings should remind us of the importance of the economy and why our political independence is but a part of the journey.

Recent disclosures about the developing relationship between some local companies as well as the news that changes to the way that some of our major entities may relate to their local customers should cause us to reflect on how we are affected greatly and personally by some business decisions which touch us in our role as consumers.

We are not suggesting the development of hostile attitudes against foreign investment. Rather we should always welcome it, because independence is also about interdependence. No country can truly exist alone if it is to make economic progress. We are indeed our brothers’ keeper.

We venture to suggest that closing in on 48 years of Independence and having regard to economic and business developments in our midst especially in the past decade, we must now assiduously set about to peacefully ensure that we do more to achieve greater local beneficial ownership of aspects of the economy.

Different cultures will obviously do business in different ways, and cultural sensitivity may not always be present if decisions are taken or influenced from thousands of miles away. What was true of political decisions is also true of economic decisions.

We have shown that we have an abundance of high quality managerial skills in our people, and while control of an enterprise is always important, we must now, to the extent that we can, strive to develop local ownership either in part of more aspects of our economy.

Our success in managing and owning the credit union movement should be a beacon to our path. Our economic and political stability owes much to our ownership of the political process. But we must not discount the role that owning a stake in this country and sharing in the economic benefits by vast numbers of our people, has helped to build the foundation on which we have erected the pillars of success. Yet, we must do more.