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OUR CARIBBEAN: Caricom woes in Carrington’s leaving

rhondathompson, [email protected]

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THE MORE I ponder the issue, the more inclined I am to think that something is amiss in the disclosure on August 4 by Edwin Carrington to retire as CARICOM’s Secretary General, effective December 31.
The surprising announcement came exactly a month after the conclusion of the 31st regular annual Heads of Government Conference. It is known that private discussion took place between Carrington and leaders of the Community of which he has been its secretary general for 18 years.
That meeting was held within the context of new consideration by CARICOM heads on the elusive issue on which they have been notoriously dragging feet for many years – the evident need for a more relevant and effective governance system for the 37-year-old regional economic integration movement.
CARICOM’s chairman, Prime Minister Bruce Golding of Jamaica, had quickly dismissed as “untrue” when I inquired whether there was any substance in reports that Carrington may have been “pushed into retiring”, considering that he still had almost two years to complete his current fourth-term employment contract.
As Carrington, now 72, plans his life after CARICOM, acknowledging that his years as secretary general “have been the pinnacle of my public service career”, there remain concerns about the approaches by the Community’s Heads of Government to find the most suitable successor to replace him.
Establishing, as they have surprisingly done, a nine-member “search committee” to help identify potential candidates, when it is not clear that they have even satisfied themselves about what they are looking for in a new secretary general, is hardly a serious approach.
Questions currently being raised include whether the recent special committee meeting in Grenada on “governance issues”  had even a draft outline on a “job description” for the new secretary general? 
Further, there is the more crucial issue of a new administrative structure for effective governance which the heads continue to avoid like a plague, while they fiddle with band-aid responses. For instance. the hilarious idea of creating a Council of Community Ambassdors to help improve the goverance system in areas such as implementation of decisions
Since they are part of the “governance” problems, the heads should perhaps consider how best to utilise the vast experience acquired by Carrington, both as secretary general of the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states and CARICOM, in any serious attempt to create a new administrative structure to respond to the challenges of our time.
If a management system parallel could be drawn with what obtains in established private sector enterprises, Carrington has been, at best, the community’s chief executive officer functioning with the heads as the board of directors, and subjected to their ultimate powers, even as he offered creative ideas and initiatives of his own.
In this example of management at the secretariat, the Heads of Government of CARICOM, as “board of directors”, cannot shrink responsibilities and escape blame for the governance problems afflicting implementation of policies and programmes to advance the goals of the region’s economic integration movement.