Editorial

When the Caricom Heads of Gov't meet in July...

Tuesday, May 07, 2013    

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After a mere 20 months in the job, Mr Irwin LaRocque, the Caricom secretary general, must feel a bit dispirited.

For, based on the information provided by eminent Caribbean journalist Mr Rickey Singh, and published in this week's Sunday Observer, Caricom now faces the danger of disintegration, instead of deepened economic integration and functional co-operation.

According to Mr Singh, that is the likely outcome if the regional movement fails to put in place a new management system for effective governance of its affairs.

Secretary General LaRocque, we recall, was clear that an overhaul of the secretariat and reform of the regional integration process was necessary to keep the economic bloc alive.

"I have come to this job on a platform of reform. I will try to do as much in my tenure of reforming the integration architecture, starting with the secretariat," Mr LaRocque told Jamaican journalists in Kingston last July.

However, the secretary general was clear that the Caricom Secretariat alone could not accomplish that feat. It will need support from the community's 15 member nations as well as the secretariat's principal organs, he said.

If anyone doubted Mr LaRocque's sincerity or energy they have not yet voiced it. In fact, during that meeting with Jamaican journalists last July we detected in Mr LaRocque a burning desire to ensure that Caricom succeeds.

But, as Mr LaRocque said, he will need the support of the region's governments if Caricom is to realise its goal of a seamless regional economy.

In December last year, another eminent Caribbean official and Sunday Observer columnist, Sir Ronald Sanders, bemoaned the fact that the year ended with Caricom "institutionally weak, and its 15 members doing little more than paying lip service to the process of economic integration".

Sir Ronald even went further to argue that it appeared that the only reason that several governments do not declare Caricom irrelevant and walk away from it is that they dare not. "To do so," he said, "they would have to explain their action to their people. It is a discussion few government leaders would relish."

We agree with Mr Singh's position, outlined in his column on Sunday, that Caricom Heads of Government need to give priority to the regional body's governance structure at their 34th annual summit scheduled for July in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.

His recommendation is that they should start with a review of the current quasi-Cabinet structure that gives Heads of Government responsibility for specific regional portfolios and which functions as a sort of management committee between their half-yearly Inter-Sessional Meeting and the regular annual summit.

It's a worthy suggestion, and one that we hope will not be dismissed because it came from outside government.

To be fair, Caricom has had some successes over its 40 years. The Caribbean Examinations Council is just one example of what the region can achieve, if hearts are set to purpose.

We don't see any reason for the desired economic integration not to enjoy the same success.

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