Unfortunately 183 years after the abolition of slavery and 50 years after the first dawn of sovereign independence in this region we are, in many respects still loitering on colonial premises after closing time.
We are mentally loitering as evidenced in the persistence of the perspective that nothing of integrity, nothing of global value and nothing of substance can emerge from Caribbean soil. We are still loitering institutionally as evidenced by the reluctance, timidity and vacillation around our full embrace of the Caribbean Court of Justice. And the saddest part of that reality is that we continue to loiter long after we have been served our eviction notice! The Privy Council itself has indicated in no uncertain terms that it does not wish to continue to exercise jurisdiction over us.
The hegemony of external control and dictation continues in many dimensions of our national lives in many spheres and it persists to our continuing detriment. We must recognize the truth of the assertion by another luminary of regional integration the Rt. Hon. P J Patterson that:
"None of us should believe that Autonomy and Independence constitute irreversible and unassailable gains for relatively small and powerless nations.
The shadow of globalization is as long as its grip is strong, and it carries within it the potential – if not the intention – by the powerful to make client-states of the weak and vulnerable, opening them-up as markets; assuming once again control of their factors of production; and reducing them to a state of dependency that compromises their autonomy.”
The contextual picture that I have painted here serves - I hope - to highlight the great significance of the launch of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of the Eastern Caribbean. This marks the assumption of full professional responsibility by Chartered Accountants of the Eastern Caribbean - you are taking back the power that never should have been ceded.
Let us have no illusion that the growth and evolution of this Institute will be faced with many challenges but the greatest of these will be the battle for acceptance and respect - not externally but internally. To win this battle, the Institute will need, from the outset, to adhere to the highest ethical and professional standards, undertake a vigorous and broad public sensitization campaign, build a foundation for sustainable growth and establish strong strategic relationships globally with best in class allies.
Understand that your success in this venture is not just about the accounting profession in the Caribbean coming into its own. Every professional body in the OECS in particular which creates this platform for global competitiveness and self-regulation helps, in so doing, to consolidate the unity and capacity of the Single Economic and Domestic Space. You can be assured of the fullest support of the OECS Commission on this journey.
Whether it be Engineers or Nurses or Accountants or Surveyors or Early Childhood Caregivers this is ultimately a reclamation of professional sovereignty and a reconciliation with our own capacity and potential. This is the journey that Derek Walcott describes in his poem Love after Love:
"The time will come When with elation You will greet yourself arriving at your own door, in your own mirror And each will smile at the other's welcome
And say sit here. Eat You will love again the stranger who was your self Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life whom you ignored for another, who knows you by heart..."
Chartered Accountants your time has come and today you will greet your competitive possibilities in your own Institute in your own likeness. Congratulations and bon voyage to this self-actualization!