Monday, April 15, 2024

Waiting to exhale for success on Caricom pledges


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WE ARE NOW into the second week of 2013 and, as far as I am aware, no Head of Government of the Caribbean Community and Common Market has made any public statement that offers new thinking that could inspire confidence for the future of our regional economic integration movement.
Apart from customary political platitudes among the Heads of Government about the “value” of CARICOM in a rapidly changing globalized political and economic environment, there has been pitiful absence of meaningful assurances to stem the tide of rolling cynicism over lack of new efforts to make a reality of the promised seamless regional economy (CSME), originally presented as the “flagship project” of a Community now entering its 40th anniversary.
St Lucia’s Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony was seemingly too immersed in serious domestic social and economic challenges – in particular, a critical fiscal deficit problem inherited from the previous one-term United Workers Party, to devote much time to challenges within CARICOM during his six-month stint as Community chairman.
Now the current chairman is Haiti’s President Michel Martelly, who will host the coming Intersessional Heads of Government meeting in Port-au-Prince next month. He will function in that capacity until the annual Community Summit in July, possibly in Trinidad and Tobago.
Crowded as Martelly is with Haiti’s daunting social and economic challenges, and being a relatively “new comer” to dealing with CARICOM’s stubborn implementation deficit problems, it would be unrealistic to expect much of significance during his tenure.
Amid this reality, the Secretary General of the Community, Irwin LaRocque, chose to inspire optimism in a post-Christmas media statement with the announcement that “restructuring of the CARICOM Secretariat will be one of the priorities in 2013”.
That has been on CARICOM’s agenda for many years, proving quite elusive under the long leadership of the now retired Edwin Carrington. Numerous reports offering a variety of recommendations, starting with specific proposals in the 1992 West Indian Commission report, have been submitted, discussed and shelved while the rhetoric on “restructuring” management kept recurring.
Secretary General LaRocque has indicated that the proposed restructuring process would be implemented in accordance with recommendations from the British-based consultancy firm Landell Mills.
He said he intended to “start in earnest the change (restructuring) process for the transformation process that our Heads of Government have mandated”.
Wish you luck, Mr LaRocque, with the promised “transformation process” in the interest of a better future for CARICOM. A whole lot of Caribbean citizens are just waiting to exhale.
• Rickey Singh is a noted Caribbean journalist. Email

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