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EDITORIAL: Caricom and the manifestos for Feb 21 poll

BEA DOTTIN, beadottin@nationnews.com

Added 05 February 2013

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The manifestos of the Democratic Labour Party and the Barbados Labour Party for the February 21 general election should soon be released. And, given growing concerns over the future of the regional economic integration movement, as embodied by CARICOM, it is to be expected that both would avoid disappointing the electorate in the perspectives they intend to offer. CARICOM, of which National Hero Errol Walton Barrow was one of the leading architects, is now in its 40th year of existence. Further, from the inception, CARICOM’S introduction of a quasi-cabinet structure to guide management of the 15-member Community, a Prime Minister of Barbados has always been assigned lead responsibility for its CSME project. During his successive three terms as Prime Minister, the BLP’s leader Owen Arthur was vigorously involved in consultations for the framing of the policies and programmes for a CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), the inauguration timetable for which continues to be elusive. Under his watch, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, amid recurring negative impact on regional economies at a time of global recession, felt obliged to advise Community colleagues to place on “pause” aspects of the CSME. Subsequent problems over intra-regional trade and economic development, as well as in areas of functional cooperation, have been spawning cynicism and disenchantment among citizens across the Community. Just last week, in delivering the “Distinguished Guest Address” at a forum of the Georgetown Rotary Club in Guyana, the former prime minister of Jamaica, P.J. Patterson, one of the more high-profile leading advocates of CARICOM, was lamenting the unfulfilled policies and programmes that would have contributed to prevailing public pessimism over the Community’s future.    Focusing on some of the frustrating areas reflecting sloth in implementation of people-oriented policies, like free movement of skilled nationals, Patterson, recognized regionally and internationally as an “elder statesman” of CARICOM, felt compelled to rhetorically ask: “What’s the value of having a CARICOM passport?” as he recalled with disappointment the difficulties Community citizens had experienced at ports of entry during Cricket World Cup 2007 in contrast to understandable free movement and courtesies extended to foreigners. Since both the DLP and BLP are on record as being firmly committed to advancing the goals of CARICOM, with the ultimate objective of inaugurating a seamless regional economy, it would, therefore, be most interesting to learn what new thinking they have to share with the Barbadian electorate via their respective manifestos for the upcoming election.

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