Letters to the Editor: Wal-Mart, free zone or Nigerian money scam?

I remember as a child that I was
once sent to the store to buy some toilet bowl cleaner for my mother.

She had mentioned a particular
brand and not seeing this brand; I decided to buy instead a chocolate wafer and
proceeded to consume it on the way back home. It seemed like a good idea at the
time until my mother asked me why I felt that a seven year old should make such
a decision with her money, considering that I did not bring back the requested
thing and now half the money was gone.

 One of my colleagues rushed up to me recently
after the announcement of the signing of the MOU by Government for the ‘Shetty’
Hospital and said that his concern was that none of ‘us’ were consulted and the
decision seemed to have been made independently by the Government and ‘we’
would have liked to have had a say or at least give an opinion. It was then
that my chocolate story came to mind and I wondered how something like this
could come to pass without the involvement of the local doctors and without
clear public revelation of the full nature of the deal. Possibly the enticement
of the candy might have once again distracted from the purpose of the store
visit?

It was likely that my colleague was
concerned about his future livelihood in the Cayman Islands and that all that
he had worked for could be swept away like (Hurricane) Ivan in the wake of a
cheaper health care offering, allowed in…or rather invited in without any
controls or consideration to the already existing health care on the island.

This is remarkably similar to the
discomfort felt about the cheap mass produced business such as Wal-Mart in the
USA because corner shop vendors eventually can’t compete with the bulk buying
and savvy marketing research and huge investments. While there is opportunity
for them to cut their losses and possibly join forces with these mega
businesses to serve the public for a greater good, are there any employment or
import preferences or concessions given to these giant businesses? I feel that
if there were, those who opposed them would have found them by now and heaped
legal mayhem upon them.

 So this led me to seriously consider making rational
sense of the situation especially since there was such mixed debate and I found
myself in a peculiar situation where I felt bad for being critical seeing as we
are in such dire financial times. It reminded me of how little attempt was made
to follow up on investigating Bernie Madoff while everyone was making money but
I was also concerned that it was common in tough times to either sink your last
chips into a rash bet or believe that there is money in the Bank of Nigeria
that could be yours.

In this case, consultation and
transparency may have pointed less in the direction of a scary, obscure
Government backed monopoly and more in the direction of a free zone where this
hospital and its lands can be seen as an extension of India, with concessions
made in exchange for the benefits of property sales, local construction and
employment of local workers but with the restriction of business to within this
zone only and subscription from offshore patients or those referred from local
doctors only…..just like a hedge fund….or an embassy. If doctors can come over
and be licensed in India but not licensed here, giving them the ability to
provide a service that does not have the potential to compete with any services
rendered here locally, we would be beginning to better appreciate and feel
comfortable with what could be a great medical advance in our Islands.

Dr. Dirk Belfonte

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