Principal of the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles says the Caribbean finds itself in a unique circumstance where in many countries, companies have a better debt profile and debt rating than the countries themselves.
The UWI professor said Barbados was one such country and he used the insurance giant Sagicor as an example of a company with a higher international rating.
“I am a Sagicor director and Sagicor has a better international rating than the country in which it is domiciled and that is Barbados,” declared Sir Hilary.
“ What does that mean for us as a region? he asked, acknowledging that “this debt issue is a cloud over our development prospect”.
Sir Hilary however sees a way out of the current economic difficulties for the region.
In fact, he suggested that the situation that got “us here” was “no different from getting married at 24 or 25 and building your house before you are sure about your income for the future”.
In this case, he said “you do your house, band your belly and hope for the best”.
“Countries do the same thing, but the fact is that it gets easier. We will see our way through this particular circumstance so we need to be positive,” he said, warning however that “ in the midst of this, leadership is very important.
“I have a view based in my own discipline as an economic historian, looking at how countries and institutions have developed and evolved the last two, three thousand years and studying those patterns of transformation . . . the critical lesson in all of this, particularly [for] developing countries, leadership is the key. It is the key because in many of the developed countries, many of the institutions already have a logic built in for accountability to move them forward,” Sir Hilary contended, as he told regional tertiary education administrator attending a conference hosted by the Cave Hill Campus we had not yet reached this stage.