Monday, February 19, 2018

Dark season for Caricom as regional integration on pause

THE FAILURE to identify a new Secretary General for the Caribbean Community (Caricom) or to indicate any progress in coming to grips with the need for a new and relevant management structure at the Georgetown-based Secretariat, continue to attract attention across the region.

Just two weeks ago, the Jamaica Observer editorially declared that in deciding at their "special retreat" in Guyana last month to put on "pause" arrangements for the promised vital single economy, the Heads of Government may well be "sounding the death knell of Caricom".

As the Observer noted, the Community's leaders are yet to explain to the region's people the specific problems/challenges that prevent them from advancing the process towards a seamless regional economy.

The Single Market component of the CSME (Caricom Single Market and Economy) came into effect in 2006 and it was originally estimated that the single economy could be inaugurated by 2008. However, it was subsequently revised and hopefully, the single economy dimension would be inaugurated by 2015.

Now, following last month's "special retreat" to, ironically, consider ways to "re-energise" the regional integrtation movement, no time frame has been offered for advancing specific segments of the single economy; no information provided on new initiatives to be pursued to keep faith with the Community's people in making a reality of this promised "flagship project".

In the circumstances, the Observer was left to "wonder what happened to the once shared vision of the region benefiting economically and socially from a strong and united Caricom" and in frustration expressed "the hope that our leaders are not now sounding the death knell for Caricom…."

On June 7, the Jamaica Gleaner may well have put the proverbial cat among the pigeons by throwing the weight of its own editorial influence in calling for outgoing President of Guyana, Bharrat Jagdeo to be chosen by the region's Heads of Government as the new Secretary General of the 15-member Caribbean Community.

Interestingly, the newspaper based its suggestion in favour of the Guyanese Head of State on the basis of qualities that should be required in the choice of a new Secretary General to succeed the retired Edwin Carrington. And it cited the criteria listed by the current Caricom chairman, Grenada's Prime Minister Tillman Thomas, in a 'working document' he had circulated to Heads of Government ahead of their two-day "special retreat".

"The new Secretary General", according to Thomas, "should be capable of driving the regional integration project; one who is imbued also with a sense of political and diplomatic strategy; who brings to the office sufficient personal stature to be a respected, courageous and independent