The search for an economic game changer
Leadership is nothing but a reflection of the people and the well-known maxim, ‘every nation gets the government it deserves,’ which originated with Joseph-Marie, Comte de Maistre, may well be applicable in strengthening this observation.
Not too long after it came into office on a popular wave in 2009, the current UDP administration lost its shine and over the past three years, has faced protest after protest for many of the projects it proposed.
This is an administration that continues to face strident criticism for mishandling its mandate and for not achieving much in getting the economy going.
At a time like this one may well ask of the government what it is doing to create business opportunities and bring economic stability to the country. But the country may also ask itself, what it is doing to assist the government in this regard.
Are we productive enough? What are we – government and the private sector-doing to develop and promote indigenous Caymanian businesses?
Some countries can boast of innovations that see their cultural being exported in many different forms around the world. We may well cite neighbouring Jamaica in this regard, a country with a population of less than three million, which notwithstanding has a cultural brand that belies its size. This over-sized brand recognition has been built on the country’s achievements in areas such as Reggae music, such that this music form is the sought-after music on the continent of Africa. As many as 30 years ago, the music was alive and well in African hearts and has been an export commodity that has not only enriched its creators and purveyors, but has brought unprecedented recognition to the country.
This recognition has also been fueled by Jamaica’s achievements in the sporting arena and through the export of such things as its cuisine and world-renowned products such as Blue Mountain coffee.
What can we learn from this one example?
Every country has its own unique cultural forms that define it and that it can share with the rest of the world. Shouldn’t we be examining ourselves to determine what aspects of our culture and native products we can share with the rest of the world for our own material and social benefit?
Shouldn’t we be encouraging inventions that would sell a culturally-based commodity to the rest of the world; should we be able to do this, it could well prove to be the game changer for the way we do business because every Caymanian would have a chance to participate in this industry.
We have heard so much about the need to create a third pillar of the economy and hopes are resting on medical tourism as a possible saviour.
It is all the more urgent, given what has been happening to the country’s GDP over the past few years. The stark reality is that this has been declining – from $2,617.5 million in 2008, to $2,433.9 million in 2009 and $2,335.58 million in 2010.
Clearly, the Cayman Islands cannot continue to depend solely on the financial services industry and tourism, despite whatever successes they may have had in the past.
The time has come for a far more diversified economy, one that can harness the natural talents of a significant segment of the population to develop and promote the kind of cultural exports that have elevated many other small nations.
Let the discussion begin on what this new economic pursuit should be and both government and private sector should work in concert to harness the best ideas coming from such a discussion.
This is something that need not be left up to government alone and if the country cannot deliver on such a product, perhaps it is that both government and the people have fallen short.