Sunday, March 3, 2024

Time to revisit West Indian Commission


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THE YEAR 2012 is truly a very significant year! Not only is it the 50th anniversary of the attainment of independence by Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, but it is also the 20th anniversary of the ground-breaking 1992 Report Of The West Indian Commission.
It therefore behoves us to spend some time this year reflecting on the grossly underutilized Report.
It was on May 25, 1992, that chairman of the West Indian Commission, Sir Shridath Ramphal, and his 14 fellow commissioners, signed off on the report entitled Time For Action, after an extensive three-year period of consulting with the Caribbean people and working out a comprehensive blueprint for taking the CARICOM countries forward and deepening their unity.
The historic CARICOM Heads of Government Summit in Grenada in July 1989, which produced the visionary Grand Anse Declaration, gave birth to the West Indian Commission to craft a programme for taking our subregion forward into the 21st century.
To their credit, the members of the West Indian Commission took their mandate very seriously and within the space of three years delivered to the heads of Government a Caribbean people’s manifesto for change and action. But, as is so often the case, the CARICOM governments engaged in a minimal implementation of the 500-page report, thereby resulting in a multitude of constructive Caribbean-building proposals lying fallow and unused for the past 20 years!
It is clear to us in the PEP that our CARICOM nations need to confront this era of profound recession with a regional development programme based on the following planks:
(1) The development of collectively owned, multi-territory regional industries producing food and basic industrial commodities;
(2) The establishment of a regional monetary authority focused on ensuring exchange and convertibility of national currencies, developing a common regional currency, and augmenting the stock of development capital;
(3) The development of a regional transportation network comprising merchant shipping and a regional airline and fast ferry service;
(4) The development of a regional telecommunications, mass media and film-making network;
(5) The establishment and promotion of a multi-territory CARICOM tourism project;
(6) The establishment of a regional science, technology, research and development network, and a regional energy authority.
(7) The downsizing, rationalization and sharing of foreign affairs departments and diplomatic missions.
This is the type of developmental initiative that the ideas contained in the West Indian Commission report can help us to flesh out!
Let us therefore use 2012 to pay the greatest tribute that we can to those of the 15 illustrious Caribbean men and women who, since giving birth to the Time For Action manifesto, have gone on to the ancestral realm – Dame Nita Barrow, Rex Nettleford, William Demas and Allan Kirton – by giving serious and deserved consideration to their proposals and recommendations!
• The PEP column represents the views of the People’s Empowerment Party. Email


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