Caricom heads of government have agreed “on the need for a closer working relationship” among all the regional security institutions, including the controversial Caricom Implementation Agency for Crime and Security Implementation (Impacs).
Prime Minister Kamla-Persad-Bissessar was among the 11 regional leaders who came to this decision during the 23rd inter-sessional meeting of the Caricom Heads of Government in Paramaribo, Suriname, on Thursday and Friday.
In their communique outlining the decisions taken at the Suriname meeting, the Caricom heads said they had received an interim report on “the consultancy to examine the institutions involved in implementing the Regional Security Agenda” .
Impacs has come under scrutiny after allegations of misuse of funds were first reported by the Sunday Express last year.
And Persad-Bissessar told the other heads of government in Caricom that funding for Impacs, which is headquartered in Trinidad and Tobago, should be put on hold until the consultants reviewing its operations have submitted their final report.
Impacs is responsible to the Caricom heads through the prime minister responsible for crime and security.
As the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Persad-Bissessar is the Caricom head with lead responsibility for crime and security.
She gave a briefing on Impacs and other issues related to regional crime at the inter-sessional meeting during a lengthy caucus meeting on Thursday.
When that meeting ended at 9.30 p.m. Suriname time, Persad-Bissessar told reporters: “I think it may be prudent for us to hold a decision on Impacs now because we have engaged consultants to study for us.”
“It may well be premature now; having commissioned the consultancy, it may well be premature to go and take a decision at this point in time, and that will be my respectful submission. Await for that report,” Persad-Bissessar said.
She said Impacs was initially established for the 2007 Cricket World Cup, hosted by Caricom member states.
“And thereafter, it was to deal with the CHOGM (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting) in Trinidad, the Summit of the Americas, and whether that structure is optimum because you are now asking it to perform another kind of role, a greater role. Not just for the security of events but as the security agency within the region,” Persad-Bissessar said.