MEDIA colleagues of mine, particularly those doing the "Caricom beat", would know that the communiqué of either a regular Heads of Government Conference or for an Inter-Sessional Meeting, may not be the best place to locate "fresh news" on topical issues of wide regional/international interest.
Such communiques are, nevertheless, quite important as helpful sources of information and official records with offerings of statements/explanations for communicating with the public on pledges and developments in the ongoing quest to make a reality of the primary objectives of the regional economic integration movement.
In this regard, the ten-page communiqué released last Saturday on the 33rd annual Heads of Government Conference was no different in format or content.
Nevertheless, there was a discernible anxiety by the Community's Heads of Government to become more active, or aggressively involved in addressing the "implications" for Caricom, now in its 39th year, of current global and financial developments.
In this context, they opted to engage, collectively, in new foreign policy initiatives that reflect an understanding of current and evolving geo-political and economic realities.
Their promise is to have a new emphasis on deepening relations with the trade and economic partners of significance in Latin America, Asia and Africa without, and quite wisely, disrupting traditionally good relations with Europe and North America.
As the saying goes, the "devil is in the details''. And for that we simply have to wait when the Heads choose to push the "start" (not "pause'') button in order to launch the process of re-examining "policy approaches to growth and development", as well as their "review of fiscal policy to achieve a balance between taxation and expenditure" to support economic growth and boost employment.
In identifying various sectors of the region's economy, including tourism, agriculture and construction (the traditional trio of major sources of income and employment), the Heads made a surprising call for the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB)to "structure its lending products and processes to assist in the thrust for growth and development".
Further, that the CDB "signal their intent to engage the multilateral financial institutions in the effort to buttress member states against external shocks…"
This "message", if it could be so termed, as sent out, via the communique, is surprising for the simple reason that it carries the assumption by, of all people, the Caricom leaders, that the CDB has "homework'' to do.
In reality, of course, this premier regional institution, one of the twin major pillars of Caricom (the other being the University of the West Indies), has been, and continues to be, quite forthcoming in policy reviews and adjustments to more effectively respond to the essential priorities of its borrowing member countries (the so-called "BMCs'').
Not only are all Caricom countries represented on the CDB's board of governors and maintain oversight obligations. They would know that the CDB and the UWI (the latter a most vital source of human capital in this region), are currently actively engaged with the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank in a very creative initiative known as the "Caribbean Growth Forum" (CGF).
Along with old partners like the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DIFID) and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), both the CDB and UWI are committed to producing informed guidelines on the way forward for economic growth with a special focus on job creation and jobless youth in particular.
The Heads would be aware that the CGF, inaugurated in Jamaica last month, is a unique 15-month "partnership project" and its report would undoubtedly be useful in addressing some of the deep concerns over the implications of the global economic and financial challenges for this region.
In the circumstances, it would have been more helpful if the Heads had shared in their end-of-conference communiqué some specific ideas/examples of what they have in mind for either the short and medium term instead, of generally resorting to customary official language in conveying to the public their intent to "re-examine policy approaches to growth and development and to also review fiscal policy to achieve a balance between taxation and expenditure…."
The CGF, we know is a 15-month project. It would be useful to learn of the time-frame for action by the Heads of Governments for the "new policy approaches and reviews" they have set themselves before they meet again six months time.
Of course, they do not like to be reminded that "sloth" continues to be a disturbing manifestation in the implementation processes of Caricom—an economic integration movement we badly need to survive.