McKinnon: Aid needed to push development
February 16, 2007
McKinnon: Aid needed to push development

St Vincent and the Grenadines is going to be dependent on aid programmes for a long time yet; there must however be a continued push towards development and education.

Speaking to SEARCHLIGHT at the Heads of Government meeting earlier this week, Donald McKinnon, Secretary General of the Commonwealth said that improvements in health facilities, educational systems and per capita income will continue to push small states like St Vincent and the Grenadines away from dependency but stressed “aid is still needed to push development.”{{more}}

McKinnon, a former Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand said that the Commonwealth has to continue to evolve and stay relevant to meet the needs of its member states. He told SEARCHLIGHT

that 33 of its members are small states (populations of less than 1.5 million) so it is imperative that the organization stays on top of the new trade arrangements that continue to adversely affect the smaller states.

“The Caribbean and smaller Commonwealth countries have been beaten up by larger countries and the World Trade organization,” McKinnon said.

He said that while there are certain trends in trade like loss of trading preferences are inevitable, the Commonwealth would continue to insist that the new requirements are not implemented overnight and be spread in a way that the pain to the countries would be lessened.

“The smaller countries like St Vincent and the Grenadines cannot be isolated from the trends in the world,” McKinnon said. He however added that they shouldn’t get the full buffeting of the changes that come far too rapidly.

Since the wearing away of the historic preferential access – a quota system that guaranteed Caribbean bananas a sure market in Britain, the Windward Islands banana industry has been left to float or sink on the waters of free trade.

McKinnon also said that as Tourism will continue to be a major player in the economies of Caribbean states, it was important that the principles of “best practices’ be observed.

“You have to look at what others are doing, why they are successful and learn from them,” he said.

He told SEARCHLIGHT that because of increased competitiveness, quality service had to occupy the forefront of tourism management personnel’s minds.

“Caribbean states are in fact competing against themselves so you must make sure that your standard of service is impeccable,” he said.