A rising regional policy research organisation has thrown open its doors in Barbados in the midst of concerns that Barbados and its neighbours are at a developmental cross road. Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CaPRI), which was started less than three years ago in Kingston, Jamaica, is a public policy think tank seeking to change the way policy and decision making are currently done in the region. Officially opened last evening, it is now operating in Barbados from an office at The Annex, Herbert House, Fontabelle, St. Michael.
Speaking at the unveiling, CaPRI Senior Fellow Professor Avinash Persaud said the rut Jamaica had found itself in, most recently typified by violent confrontations between law enforcers and civilian gunmen, was something all countries in the region should be concerned about.
The economist and financial analyst said Barbados and others should not be comforted by the fact that their societies were seemingly less dysfunctional since what happened in Kingston should concern all Caribbean people and governments.
But beyond on that, he noted, societal problems were not unique to Jamaica and countries like Barbados also had other developmental, social and economic issues that needed attention.
He expected CaPRI to play a significant role in shaping the discussions and resulting policy decisions of regional Governments as they sought to advance their countries. And he promised the organisation would do so without fear since it would not only benefit from independent thought but independent funding, at least independent of government.
“It’s true to say that choices are made, things don’t happen entirely by accident. We can learn many things from Jamaica, we can learn many good things from Jamaica and we can learn some things that we must try to avoid,” Persaud told an audience including a number of entrepreneurs and thinkers in their own right.
“We can learn that there is no excusing crime because it happens to others, there is no tolerating of injustice because it happens to others, there is no complacency that it doesn’t matter that government’s inefficient because I know someone who can get me that licence, get me that form, I don’t need to stand up in the queues. It is that kind of complacency that leads to trouble and one of the things we can learn too is that growth is not a luxury it is a necessity.”
He also noted that violence in Jamaica had not existed in a vacuum, since decades of effectively zero growth there had “gone a long way to contributing to the ills and woes and difficulties and deep challenges that Jamaica now faces”.
The CaPRI spokesman said a primary solution to the challenges confronting Barbados and others was growth, a necessity to meeting continuing challenges.
Persaud also said the necessary change needed to start within and that CaPRI had an important role to play in this regard.
“The Caribbean must take responsibility; change starts with us not without and that is a key emblem, a key task, a key objective that CaPRI sets out for itself,” he stated.
Persaud thanked bodies like the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and Britain Department For International Development (DFID) for their financial support to CaPRI since its inception and vowed its voice would remain free and frank.