CARICOM gov’ts, not Sec­re­tariat to blame for slow move to CSME

-ex-Ja­maica PM

Stabroek News Sunday - - REGIONAL NEWS -

For­mer Ja­maican Prime Min­is­ter Bruce Gold­ing on Fri­day took re­gional govern­ments to task for fail­ing to im­ple­ment de­ci­sions nec­es­sary for the achieve­ment of a CARICOM Sin­gle Mar­ket and Econ­omy (CSME).

Gold­ing, who served as chair of the Ja­maica CARICOM Re­view Com­mis­sion, ad­dressed the open­ing of a two-day stake­holder con­sul­ta­tion on the CSME on Fri­day at the Ra­mada Ge­orge­town Princess Ho­tel at Prov­i­dence.

In his ad­dress, Gold­ing, who gave credit to the Sec­re­tariat for the “con­sid­er­able ef­forts” it has made to im­ple­ment the CSME and to help mem­ber coun­tries to ful­fill their obli­ga­tions, opined that the Sec­re­tariat is of­ten made the scape­goat for CARICOM’s fail­ures.

“It is not fair. It is not fair to the Sec­re­tary Gen­eral. It is not fair to his staff,” Gold­ing said, adding, “I wouldn’t want his job for five times his salary. The frus­tra­tion that he must go through would be haz­ardous to my health.” His re­marks brought some laugh­ter among par­tic­i­pants.

Gold­ing stated that the im­ple­men­ta­tion of de­ci­sions taken by heads of govern­ment “is pri­mar­ily the re­spon­si­bil­ity of na­tional govern­ments”. “The Sec­re­tariat dare not even ap­pear to be insert­ing it­self into the af­fairs of mem­ber states’ pol­icy mak­ing or de­ci­sion- mak­ing process of na­tional govern­ments,” Gold­ing stated.

He re­lated that in dis­cus­sions he has had with mul­ti­lat­eral in­sti­tu­tions that fund a lot of the im­ple­men­ta­tion ef­forts of the Sec­re­tariat, they have ex­pressed frus­tra­tion at the re­sponse by govern­ments.

In the Re­view Com­mis­sion’s re­port, he re­lated that there is “hardly any ex­cuse” prof­fered by any mem­ber state as to why they have failed to im­ple­ment the de­ci­sions.

He said the re­port lists unim­ple­mented de­ci­sions, agree­ments await­ing sig­na­tures or rat­i­fi­ca­tion, poli­cies re­quir­ing leg­is­la­tion or leg­is­la­tion not en­acted and ad­min­is­tra­tive steps not taken, as “is­sues that in some in­stances have been lan­guish­ing for more than ten years.”

The re­port re­peat­edly noted that some mat­ters which govern­ments have floun­dered on for decades are less chal­leng­ing than the mat­ters to which they have not yet turned their at­ten­tion. These in­clude the ques­tion of macro­eco­nomics, free move­ment, and move­ment of goods and ser­vices, which, Gold­ing said, are es­sen­tial to the cre­ation of an eco­nomic space.

Ques­tion­ing the rea­sons for in­ac­tion, he said he does not think it was the ab­sence of courage as much as it is the need to delve deep into the CSME pro­vi­sions which some govern­ments think is “likely to do them more harm than good.”

Delv­ing deeper into the pro­vi­sions, he opined, is an is­sue the re­gion has to con­front. Gold­ing re­ferred to some com­ments and sug­ges­tions put for­ward by St Vin­cent and the Gre­nadines’ Prime Min­is­ter Dr Ralph Gon­salves, who also made a pre­sen­ta­tion at the event.

in the fore­see­able fu­ture.”

He sug­gested that based on the cur­rent con­struct of the re­gional body, the Re­vised Treaty of Ch­aguara­mas should be amended to al­low for “a spe­cial carve-out” for the Or­gan­i­sa­tion of East­ern Caribbean States (OECS), es­tab­lished in 2010, to ac­com­mo­date its eco­nomic union.

Gon­salves called for the strength­en­ing of Chap­ter 7 of the Re­vised Treaty to bet­ter pro­tect the in­ter­ests of dis­ad­van­taged coun­tries, re­gions and sec­tors.

Fur­ther, he urged the con­sol­i­da­tion and ex­ten­sion of “the ef­fi­ca­cious op­er­a­tion of func­tional co­op­er­a­tion, se­cu­rity ar­range­ments, for­eign pol­icy co­or­di­na­tion, and the trade/sin­gle mar­ket ac­tiv­i­ties.

On for­eign pol­icy co­or­di­na­tion, he said, “we can­not say we have been a great suc­cess,” while re­veal­ing that there are sev­eral govern­ments in the re­gion “lined up with the United States of Amer­ica to give them an op­por­tu­nity pos­si­bly to in­vade Venezuela.”

The Prime Min­is­ter also called for re­vamp­ing of CARICOM’s gov­er­nance struc­ture, up­grad­ing and en­hanc­ing of the struc­ture and func­tion­ing of the Sec­re­tariat, im­prove­ment of in­tra CARICOM air and sea travel, and the set­tling of a bun­dle of out­stand­ing mat­ters.

Among the ma­jor out­stand­ing is­sues for his coun­try, he said, are the pric­ing and trade in en­ergy sup­plies, the re­stric­tion on avail­abil­ity of for­eign ex­change to small traders who sell their com­modi­ties in Trinidad and To­bago (TT) and the fail­ure of the govern­ment of TT to pay in part or in whole the out­stand­ing sum of US$64 mil­lion owed to pol­icy hold­ers in OECS coun­tries on ac­count of the col­lapse of TT for­mer in­surance gi­ant, CL Fi­nan­cial.

Bruce Gold­ing

Dr Ralph Gon­salves

What do we have here? A traf­fic cop sur­vey­ing the scene found minibus GRR 7974 flipped on its side on Fri­day af­ter­noon along Pere Street, Kitty, after the driver re­port­edly lost con­trol while ne­go­ti­at­ing the Rus­sian Em­bassy S-curve. The driver re­lated...

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