Dominica wants a revisit of Caricom decision-making process

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — Dominica yesterday called on the Caribbean Community (Caricom) to revisit its decision-making process as regional leaders continued their deliberations on the measures aimed at ensuring the future development of the regional integration movement, Caricom, with particular reference to the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME).

Prime Minster Roosevelt Skerrit, addressing the final day of the two-day Caricom special summit after Jamaica's Prime Minister Andrew Holness had presented a report on a commission to review his country's relationship with Caricom, said he agreed with “certain elements of the presentation.

“Caricom needs to make a proper assessment of the decisions which we take before we move to implement,” Skerrit said, making reference to the bureaucracy that impedes the implementation process.

He said that these decisions are piled up at the Secretariat “and we blame the Secretariat for not implementing them when all they could do is to note them and to send them for us…”

Skerrit told his regional colleagues that most of the times the meetings begin “with two items on the agenda and we end up with 25, and we take decisions with no proper research… And these things cost money, they impose a lot of challenges on us in the national systems, and we do not have the capacity to implement all of those systems.

“So I think, and I have said it before, we have to look at our decision-making process… and implementation mechanism,” Skerrit said, acknowledging that within Caricom there are likely to be various stages of progress.

“It is a give-and-take scenario,” he said, noting that the challenges given by Holness in his presentation could also apply in some instances to Dominica, “especially where the single market is concerned.

“Even with my own reconstruction after the hurricane, we are still firm as a Government on procuring goods from Caricom. Even where we have serious challenges, every week there was a shortage of cement and construction material… We remain firm on keeping the resources within Caricom as far as practically possible.”

Skerrit said that his Administration insisted on that policy even when “we could get them much cheaper elsewhere”.

Skerrit questioned whether Caribbean countries, in their quest to “get where [they] want to get to”, are prepared to give up some of the powers, adding, “And what legal mechanism we can put in place to address the issue of implementing decisions…

“I can't understand that we as heads of government, heads of state, will come here and take decisions and agree to that, and when we go home we don't want to implement them.

“So we like to make reference to the European Union as a region, but we not prepared to go to the extent that the European Union has gone with regards to its governance structure.”

Skerrit said that even when decisions are taken, some countries seek exemptions, “what do you have left?

“So we have to look at what it is we would like to create, in so far as the CSME is concerned. What decision we take to get to that point and what Government structure we would need to put in place to get it,” Skerrit said, noting that countries come to Council for Trade and Economic Development with different views.

“And when we meet as heads, we say how could my officials agree to this? This was not discussed in Cabinet... So how could we place that on the agenda?... And we ask for it to be expunged... as Dominica's position or any other country's position.

Skerrit said that it was, therefore, necessary for the region to deal with the situation given the position outlined by Jamaica, based on the commission's report that Kingston would withdraw from the single market within five years if things have not changed significantly.

“So I believe that what we need to do is to go through these recommendations… which we should all look at objectively with an open mind and to categorise it: What are the things we can achieve in the next few months or next year and put a timetable in place, and then if there are some things we cannot achieve, let us set aside those things which we believe are impossible to achieve in the existing government structure,” Skerrit said.

The Jamaica Parliament has already adopted a resolution based on the commission's report that called for a re-evaluation of the integration process, and for member states to commit to implementing a fully functional single market within a five-year period.

The Parliamentary Resolution covered, among other things, the need for Caricom member states to make a clear commitment to establishing the single market with a “specific time-bound, measurable and verifiable programme of actions to fulfil all outstanding obligations within a period of five years”.

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