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AS I SEE THINGS: Aggressive agenda for 2016


BRIAN FRANCIS

AS I SEE THINGS: Aggressive agenda for 2016

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On reflection, most of us living and working in the Caribbean would certainly conclude that 2015 was a watershed year for all and sundry irrespective of which islands we reside in and practise our various trades.

From Guyana in the south to Jamaica in the north, we have witnessed significant developments in politics, economics, sports and culture.

The narrow, yet, historic elections in St Vincent and the Grenadines; the announcement by Trinidad and Tobago’s central bank governor, premature or not, that the country’s economy is officially in recession; the triumph of the Jamaican sprinters in the World Championships; and the passing of several of our cultural icons are but only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to issues that would have impacted our state of mind in the past 12 months.

However we wish to categorise these events, one thing remains true for all of us: that 2016 would represent once again a year for deep reflection, tough choices and greater innovation if Caribbean economies and societies are to keep their heads above the surface in turbulent sea waters.

The unfriendly tides we have to confront are partly the outcome of a rather fragile global economy in which the achievement of sustained levels of real economic growth seems to be getting as elusive as the chance of a snowball surviving in exceedingly high temperatures.

Still, as small, open and highly vulnerable economies, we cannot abandon the struggle for economic freedom, political stability and overall prosperity for our people.

We must continue to fight for what we believe and pursue the socioeconomic goals we have set for ourselves. Our struggle for progress – economically, politically, socially and culturally – suggests quite unambiguously that we have to adopt an aggressive agenda for change and development in 2016. We must identify what are the real and immediate challenges facing us as small nations and develop strategies for winning those battles. At present, the decrepit states of many of our health systems stand out among the major issues that our people and countries must confront head on in the new year.

How would we tackle those challenges? Are we satisfied that enough is being done by those in authority to improve our health systems? Do we have the resources necessary to bring about positive change in the delivery of health care in the region and, if we do not, what plans are we putting in place to allow us to adequately finance our health systems?

You see, in this life of ours, sometimes it is the little things that matter. Let us begin by identifying what are our most pressing needs and design strategies that will allow us to fulfil the dreams and aspirations of our people.

In other words, we ought to: “start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” (Francis of Assisi).

Therefore, as we enter the new year, let’s bear in mind that the changes taking place in the global economy will continue and hence the consequences for Caribbean countries. We can either choose to bury our heads in the sand and leave all else exposed – like the proverbial ostrich – or we can accept words of wisdom from Jimmy Dean and be innovative because we appreciate that as individuals “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination”. Which strategy will we in the Caribbean adopt in 2016?

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