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PM Rowley warns of continued threats posed by globalisation

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley warned yesterday that trade violations, unfair trade practices, information misuse, and environmental damage are among the challenges emerging from the move towards globalisation.

“Perhaps the harshest reality to be faced is that in our globalised world, inequality within and among countries has increased, and the gap between the haves and the have-nots is as glaring as ever. Today, this very all-embracing concept is being weaponised against us, the vulnerable,” Rowley told the opening ceremony of the 44th Annual Conference of the Caribbean, Americas and the Atlantic Region of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA).

He told the delegates that globalisation was the catalyst identified for a bigger, better and boundless system of trade engagement; it was the much-anticipated salve and balm to ease and to bring relief to countries experiencing economic woe and stagnation.

“When the concept of globalisation first emerged on the political and economic landscape it held the promise of free trade, job creation, competitiveness, market access, information exchange, cultural connectivity, and the free movement of persons and goods. Today, we are realising that this process, while replete with potential, was not without its socio-economic and environmental costs and burdens.”

He said, indeed the world is by far a vastly different place compared to the 1900s and the 1960s when latterly the sweeping wave of nationalism sparked and smouldered the embers of independence for many.

“We in Trinidad and Tobago confidently grasped ours in 1962. Whereas globalisation once promised the removal of barriers, open doors and open borders, the creeping rise of radical nationalism is breeding dangerous discontent and disunity as regional alliances fracture.”

Rowley said that in certain quarters, the focus is to look inward to myopic interests and insular objectives, rather than looking outwards toward the common good of mankind.

“This simmering discontent has given rise to intolerance, open racism, and xenophobia — with a proliferation in hate crimes and conflict worldwide. Gates are being shut before dialogue can even commence, in the name of country and self-preservation.”

Rowley said as a result, the question to be asked is what should be done to preserve the Commonwealth nations to address the very real risks and threats and how, as policymakers and legislators in the Caribbean, Americas and Atlantic region, forge solutions to tackle global issues and concerns.

“In a world of inequalities and uneven development, the Commonwealth distinguishes itself as a family of nations, which is less preoccupied with structure and hierarchy, and more concerned about performance and connectivity.

“In this divided world lies our association, whose membership regardless of gender, race, religion or culture — is united by communal interests, respect for the rule of law, and the pursuit of positive ideals of parliamentary democracy,” Rowley said. He commended the conference “for keeping at the forefront…the threat we all face, including threats to the survival of this great association, at a time of world unease”.

But Rowley said that parliaments must also welcome the opportunities presented by globalisation, whilst eschewing the dangerous and divisive beliefs and mindsets that are cultivated by new forms of nationalism.

“The sacred space of the parliament is where ideas, goals, and ambitions are to be translated into tangible outcomes for our citizenry. It is therefore no small feat when we parliamentarians gather to equip ourselves for better governance, stronger representation, and enhanced service delivery by sharing knowledge and best practices, and discussing ways and means of enriching the quality of life of our peoples through the critically important mandate of the CPA.”

In his address, Rowley said that even after 30 years as a legislator, the term “part-time parliamentarians” is still being used to describe those who represent the people's voice in government.

He said parliament remains the cornerstone of democracy, an important institution that fulfils two critical functions — to legislate and to hold government to account.

Fundamental objectives of parliamentary oversight, he said, are to promote people's well-being and improve governance over their affairs.


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