Small Is Beautiful
"Economic development is something much wider and deeper than economics, let alone econometrics. Its roots lie outside the economic sphere, in education, organisation, discipline and, beyond that, in political independence and a national consciousness of self-reliance.”
We are quite aware that small is beautiful. That is why we may come across sometimes as being belligerent in our critique of the current Caribbean leaders. They simply do not realize that our relatively small geographical area has been the main reason we have survived for the past two centuries.
Our limited size and population gave our leaders a better chance of rapidly organizing our citizens as we were emerging from colonialism and charting our way toward self government or what we call independence. It is this same geographical limitation that could very well be our economic saviour. Failure to comprehend this simple fact and our insatiable appetite for copying the “bigger” countries, have led us to state of intellectual paralysis. We have boxed ourselves into a corner by constantly harping on what our small size does not allow us to do rather than what it makes possible and necessary.
The relative close proximity to each other should have by now created a rapid movement of citizens, goods and services throughout the region. However the complete opposite is the case.
The main regional intra island carrier LIAT is in virtual shambles. We have a situation where several governments cannot effectively manage one airline. Therefore regional travelling is littered with daily problems and we simply cannot find the solutions. Once more incapable politicians and their cronies have plunged regional travel into a trip reminiscent of the twilight zone, with badly organized flights, poor service and exorbitant fares. We cannot say for sure if LIAT is flying or grounded; we do not know if it is coming in or going out. Arrivals and departures are in a perpetual state of confusion.
Our small business people are in decline. They are facing threats by the proliferation of foreign fast food operations; foreign backed real estate speculators; small shopkeepers and locally owned supermarkets are being drowned by foreign chains; small farmers cannot produce effectively to counter importation of agricultural products and the list goes on and on. If we had used our size effectively and efficiently, our small business people, in all areas of economic activity, would be on the same page throughout the region, competitively pushing their goods and services and developing models that would not only compete against imports but would have established better export linkages.
Failure to regionally develop our small business sectors by regular interaction and sophisticated networking and marketing of skills, goods and services, has left them out in the cold unable to grow into modern cutting edge operations. We must therefore break away from our limited thinking and come to the simple realization that small economies and factors of production and services well managed can effectively move us forward. Small is beautiful.