Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 18th 2014 Contents SEPTEMBER 2014 • WEEK THREE www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
COMMENTARY | BG25
If the people of Scotland vote for independence from
the United Kingdom on September 18, they will be
buying a one-way ticket to their own misfortune, and
with consequences that will go beyond their borders
affecting Commonwealth countries.
Notwithstanding the arguments of the Scottish National
Party, the Scottish economy cannot sustain an independent
Scotland that can deliver the welfare system the country now
enjoys and pay for all the apparatus required for defense,
security and participation in international affairs. Scottish
nationalists do the people of Scotland no favour by glibly
urging them to go it alone.
If the Scottish voters opt for independence, they will quickly
learn what many independent Caribbean countries understand
wellbeing small has very few and limited advantages in a world
where military or economic power reigns supreme. Of course,
Scotland s economy is bigger than all of the Caribbean
economies, and its wealth and human resources are much
greater. In this context, it would have a better chance of
survival as an independent State than many Caribbean countries.
That argument is true, but even with its greater resources,
Scotland will still be a small country with little bargaining
power and even less coercive muscle in the international com-
munity. It will quickly learn the disadvantages and margin-
alisation of being small and ignored.
Scotland s reality is that it has a population of five million
people as against the present 63 million in the UK who share
the cost of Scotland s pension payments, unemployment
benefits and free heathcare.
Scotland would be far better-off by securing greater devo-
lution from the British government and legislature of authority
over the key matters that most deeply concern the Scottish
people. They have virtually achieved much of this by the fear
that separation has engendered in the political establishment
in Britain. The leadership of the Conservative and Labour
Parties in a desperate effort to avert Scotland s separation has
pledged greater authority to the Scottish Parliament and admin-
The political leadership of Britain has good cause for wanting
to keep Scotland in the UK. As I have argued before, it is not
only Scotland that will be diminished and
made vulnerable by a vote for independ-
ence, the rump UK will also be reduced
in stature as an economic and military
power. In turn, a shrunken UK will have
a less legitimate claim to its current occu-
pancy of a permanent seat on the United
Nations Security Council, and as an influ-
ential member of the executive organs of international financial
institutions such as the World Bank and the International
Even with the European Union and the Commonwealth of
Nations, the UK s position will be undermined. For instance,
in the Commonwealth, the UK, without Scotland, will become
a smaller economy than India.
The financial sector in Britain has already reacted badly to
the possibility of Scotland s independence; re-enforced by
recent opinion polls that indicate a sharp rise in pro-inde-
pendence sentiment. The value of the British pound fell sharply
against the US dollar and international investors have been
warned to pull their cash out of Britain to protect themselves
against the impact of Scotland s independence.
Undoubtedly, leaders of the UK s main political parties have
been very worried for some time about the impact of a positive
vote for independence by Scotland. But, while the vote against
such a possibility appeared unlikely, none of the principal
political leaders sounded any alarm for fear of creating precisely
what is now happening; anxiety that the UK will fragment
with a cataclysmic effect on its economy.
John Major, a former Conservative prime minister, articulated
the deep concerns of British political leaders by saying: "The
vote next week is about far more than the future of Scotland.
It is about the future of every part of the United Kingdom."
As polls show a distinct swing toward a vote for independ-
ence, both the British Conservative and Labour Parties have
pulled out all the stops to reverse the trend.
The Labour Party has called into actively campaigning in
Scotland its former leader and Prime Minister, Gordon Brown,
himself a Scot. It has to be hoped that, in the end, the push
of narrow Scottish nationalism will be tempered and trumped
by the pull of benefits within a wider union.
The rest of the world should be
very concerned about a UK that is
smaller in economic and military
terms and as an influential voice in
the world. The UK still has an impor-
tant role to play in contributing to
peace and security in Europe and in
the world s most troubled spots. It
will not be able to do so unless it has the means.
For countries in the Caribbean, a shrunken UK has several
consequences. One of them is as basic as contributions to the
Commonwealth secretariat and its Fund for Technical Coop-
At present, the UK pays the single largest share of these costs.
If its economy is reduced in size, contributions will have to be
recalculated placing a heavier burden on all member states
including those in the Caribbean for which the Commonwealth
is an important instrument in pursuing their foreign policy
The 12 Commonwealth Caribbean countries also need a strong
UK in the European Community and in the Organisation for
Economic Co-operation and Development as an advocate for
Caribbean interests. Belize and Guyana in the Caribbean com-
munity also have a vested interest in the UK remaining a robust
voice on the UN Security Council because of their border con-
troversies with Guatemala and Venezuela, respectively.
Beyond the international political role that a strong UK plays
for the Commonwealth Caribbean, there are a host of economic
linkages including tourism, investment and development assis-
tance that a less well-off UK will certainly be forced to curtail.
And, then there is the contention of reparations for slavery. If
Scotland were to choose independence in the referendum,
Caribbean countries would have to add Scotland to the list of
possible litigants. There were many Scottish plantation and
slave owners in the Caribbean and they, too, benefited from
huge "compensations" paid to them at slavery s formal abo-
Hopefully, good sense will prevail in Scotland on September
18.The writer is a senior fellow at the Institute of Com-
the water to form carbonic acid. This
reduces the amount of dissolved carbonate
available for calcium carbonate shell and
skeleton formation; important to corals, plank-
ton and shellfish.
Corals reefs, already under threat in the
region, are likely to have a tough time. The
invertebrate species secretes calcium carbonate
to make the rocky coastal reefs that form the
basis of some of the most productive ecosys-
tems in the oceans.
Coupled with bleaching due to warming
of the waters, it is believed that the reefs
could die as corals could become virtually
extinct by the end of the century.
Most Caribbean tourism is coastal, with
hotels dotting sandy beaches in most coun-
Unfortunately the reefs, which are now at
risk, provide significant protection from the
immense power due to hydro meteorological
events such as hurricanes.
Without the protection of the reef, the
forces caused by the storms damage beaches,
thereby reducing the viability of tourism
The Inter-American Development Bank
states that almost one-third of Caribbean
tourism resorts are at flooding risks from sea
level rise and increased sea surface temper-
atures are expected to result in severe bleach-
ing stress to the reefs of the Caribbean as
early as the 2030s, surpassing the ability of
many areas to recover.
With the impact of climate change on agri-
culture and tourism being so severe, it is a
constant threat to the reduction of poverty
in already economically fragile areas.
Adaptation strategies need to be employed
in order to mitigate the effects and assure
the sustainable development of the region.
It is thus important that the link between
climate change and disaster risk reduction
The Association of Caribbean States,
through its initiative SHOCS---Strengthening
Hydro-Meteorological Operations and Services
in the Caribbean SIDS---is helping Caribbean
countries to be better prepared for such
changes arising out of climate change.
George Nicholson is the director of dis-
aster risk reduction and Orissa Thomas is
the unit assistant to the communications
officer. Any feedback or correspondence
should be sent to email@example.com
Scotland's Sept 18 referendum
Adaptation strategies needed
From Page 24
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