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Does CSME benefit Jamaica's economy? Evidence, please

Franklin JOHNSTON

Friday, June 27, 2014    

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CSME offered us economic union with a dozen English-speaking ex-slave colonies in the far-off Eastern Caribbean. Is this your "regional ideal"? Mine is to unite with the nations in my backyard.

Old Caricom with 20 entities (for climate, food, disaster, etc), joint bargaining did not tie our economy, CSME does. CSME is a rebrand of the West Indies Federation we rejected 50 years ago.

Back then we did the right thing for the wrong reason -- great politics but not viable. Federation was honest, as "West Indies" is English-speaking with federal MPs but we refused to be taxed by them.

CSME comes to us by stealth. Our prime ministers, who play 'Dolly House' president for six months in Turkeyen, are being groomed -- as colonial as the Queen ruling people she does not know. We are sleepwalking into neo-imperialism!

I tried to start a conversation about Jamaica in CSME but no one took the bait. My quiver of outlandish goads, true-believer taunting hyperbole was almost empty ...enter Sir Ronald Sanders!

Sir Ronald is a CSME man who is not "without evidence", as he says I am, in the Sunday Observer of June 15. With slick innuendo, consummate English and masterful sleight he demolished my straw men. I agree when he calls Caricom "a light not yet fully turned on"; more a "40-year harlot" proffering economic union with no base.

For decades EC members (half of CSME) had a stable dollar and prospered -- we devalued and suck salt. Sir, "of all my mother's children I love myself the best" and I love Jamaica, so "I want to disturb my neighbour" (Bob Marley), as stasis in my poor crime-ridden nation is Hell and we need our leaders to focus on prosperity.

CSME distracts, adds no value, so please allow us to opt out and get close to nations in our backyard. Forget rhetoric, let the finance and economic conversations begin!

Like Federation, CSME is modelled on the EU but has none of its requisites, yet we are to elect men, be taxed and governed from Guyana. We never voted for CSME, and the oceans between us and the EC make it a deal-breaker for us -- a union is people.

In a union of islands, ships and aircraft are a priority -- where are CSME's? Canada saw the logistics deficit and donated ships, but we were too poor to maintain them, so less than five per cent of us travel to the EC. CSME manages poverty. It is not inspiring, and so the DR is a threat as their size would swamp CSME, but Haiti is accepted as they can't afford to travel -- hug up poverty and exclude enterprise!

CSME is not truly Caribbean as it exalts English detritus; is racial; leverages slavery, poverty, colonialism, reparations to mine gold from Europe, but exonerates Africa which still sells black flesh. It does not task members to produce and prosper, but lives on imperialist largesse. In 40 years has CSME moved member GDP above the secular trend line? No! Michael Manley sent the US ambassador packing, but CSME is silent until the USA speaks.

CSME is the Prof Bain/UWI debacle writ large! They criticise our "breaking ranks" to "unilaterally" act on ganja. Which USA state judges Colorado? Our heart is not in CSME; it has not prospered us: we do not feel it. Do they care for us?

There is no data to justify Jamaica's inclusion in an economic union with EC states. The British had none, and CSME none other than that we speak English. Sir Ronald, please point us to the data which make you confident CSME is good for Jamaica. Anti-colonial politicians with no proven business or financial acumen made this deal; "Anti" can't prosper us. Which finance studies guided them? Due diligence by KPMG, PWC?

When do forecasts say Jamaica will prosper? Show us the logistics and location studies which justify a capital in Turkeyen? the study of other SMEs which led them to the EU model? What data justified the recent Chaguaramas treaty? Our godlings wax lyrical on the virtues of Caricom politics but none on the key finance, transport logistics issues.

CSME started on foreign aid, and 40 years on is 60 per cent funded by the imperialists -- reparations or hypocrisy? If you can't pay rent, don't leave home!

CSME has no success paradigm. Ronald says "none of the countries could survive alone". Is mutual poverty a basis for economic union? Start business with men who, like you, have no capital? The sum of 12 x zero is the same

as 1 x zero. We try, but

CSME fails us by its

negative mindset.

It is not a union of

the informed, enterprising, joyfully producing value. It is shadowy, keeps the masses ignorant and aggregates power by stealth. It does not bargain as an equal or from strength -- a mendicant.

To Ronald the "small size of the economies of the region" makes the case for union. Iceland, Botswana, Seychelles, Singapore do well -- yes we can! CSME produces nothing; it leverages political clout in the Commonwealth and UN to get aid. Sir, I am no "welcome voice to the discussion of Caricom and CSME" but a nightmare to men who abuse us in regional politics and derail our prosperity. Let my people go!

Ronald cites Manley, Girvan, Patterson, Demas, Barrow, Ramphal, McIntyre, Gonsalves -- good politicians, academics, anti-colonialists -- all Anglophone. My pantheon of "radical Caribbean thinkers and leaders" includes Marti, Duarte, Christophe, Maceo, who laid down their lives for people in my backyard -- not "chat-chat" leaders; some had children and died here.

Ronald, you say "Britain regards the greater integration of the Caribbean as important," and why not? It was their idea. Why do you rate foreign opinion over our views? Scotland may exit the UK, and England the EU soon. They know we are not consulted on CSME?

Sir Ronald, Jamaicans have top Caricom jobs, but "jobs for the boys" is often a ploy to keep a disgruntled member happy. If we leave CSME and focus on the four large markets in our backyard we will prosper. Our gifted managers earned the jobs but may be pawns as we were the wild card in Federation; we are far from Turkeyen, CSME can't overcome oceans, and 70 per cent of CSME trade is not worth 25 per cent of Antilles trade to us. Sell out Jamaica for top jobs -- no way!

Ronald reminds us the EC has Nobel and cricket greats; we love them and they will not mind if we delink our economic future from CSME. For God's sake, let us get out of each other's economic way. We love Caricom games, culture, law, language, Westminster model, but allow us to build our economy with nations in our backyard as you did in the EC.

CSME for us is financially unfeasible and culturally regressive. An English-speaking union is boring. We like the market and diversity in our backyard. Sir Ronald, the world turns; Lehman Bros, Merrill Lynch, AIG, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae; Northern Rock and RBS were too big to fail, but they did.

We need data to assess CSME and our leaders' legacy. We need a Commission of Inquiry into CSME. As an economic union it needs finance, management, transport and logistics experts, but if you get salary or pension from Caricom or UWI, recuse yourself.

Sir Ronald, will you support this call for a Commission? Our people were not consulted; we got no public education, so let's explore the evidence. Stay conscious, my friend!

Dr Franklin Johnston is a strategist, project manager and advises the minister

of education. franklinjohnstontoo@gmail.com

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