Full Disclosure
January 30, 2009

Special focus needed in challenging times

A phone call from a Vincentian living in Florida last weekend made me realize that the situation in the United States is turning up-side down. The reports reveal that some have already begun to abandon their homes once they spot the possibility of foreclosure. Many are even leaving their homes long before the foreclosure is completed. It is no longer farfetched to see a white collar worker taking up the job which was once considered fit, by many, for a blue collar worker. Many in the US are collecting their ‘pink slips’ terminating their employment when they return to work after each weekend.{{more}}

When the analysts have sought to compare the present global financial crisis with the circumstances of the Great Depression of 1929, it is a clear signal that we should study the current situation with an extremely high degree of care and attention. A lot is happening in our world today and Vincentians must remain focused. The global financial situation is a topic with great currency and ought to be addressed in our churches; our schools – at the primary, secondary and post secondary levels; and throughout the entire public service and private sector.

It is in this light that the recently held joint summit between the Heads of Government of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States and the members of the Monetary Council of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank to assess the consequences of the international economic crisis on member countries and to chart a joint response must be commended as being both timely and meaningful.

The importance of the work done at this level would, however, become even more consequential when the way forward outlined by the Heads is embraced by the citizenry in each member state. Our efforts as citizens to cope with the challenging times must be taken as a personal issue, on a one to one level, for which all circumstances must be carefully internalized and addressed with specifically suited recommendations for each individual’s state of affairs.

Our Trade Unions, workers and employers ought to take into consideration the exigencies of the global circumstances when making various demands on work relations in tough times. The reality shows that in our world today it is not business as usual. Britain is officially in a state of recession, with figures showing the economy shrank by 1.5 percent in the final three months of last year, following a 0.6 percent fall in the third quarter of 2008.

These times demand increased vigilance from us all. In times of economic turmoil, an effective, efficient, engaged workforce provides the single greatest competitive advantage to any society. As such, it is critical that both the public and private sector optimize their workforce, implement the right employee engagement and development strategies, and make the best human capital investments.

If Obama’s inaugural presidential address is to be captured in only three words, it may simply read, ‘be more progressive’. At the heart of any operation geared to bring about success resides the central theme of the need to increase productivity levels. Are we satisfied with our levels of production?

Any one who fails to answer this question in the affirmative should ensure that they quickly develop at least the urge to pursue a radical attempt at redefining their steps to aim at transforming a lack of will into a spirit energized by a deep-seated passion to advance not only oneself, but to assist in transforming the lives of those they come into contact with.

The unfolding of the current global financial crisis has certainly placed our small and vulnerable economies in an extremely interesting situation. Our tourism sector is heavily dependent on the United States of America and other First World countries which serve as our major markets. Hence a downturn in these major markets will send ripples through our investments in the tourism sector. The way forward advocated by the OECS Heads of Government is to find new ways at enhancing our commitment to strengthen markedly the government-tourism industry partnership in supporting marketing, product enhancement and other facilitating action.

The Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines was correct when he advocated that the answer lies in the result and returns to be gained after a pursuit of a bundle of creative initiatives geared at economic and fiscal consolidation.

Drafting your personal budget to fit with your pay schedule is the best thing to do at this time. Careful spending is a must at this point which entails buying what you need as oppose to what you merely want. Further, creative means must also be set in place to curtail unnecessary expenditures. Our young people must open their eyes and take a good look at what is going on in our world since they are the engine within the economically active age group.

Saboto Caesar is a Lawyer and Unity Labour Party Senator.