EDITORIAL: Caricom – after Sir Edwin
DESERVING ENCOMIUMS were showered last weekend on outgoing Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Sir Edwin Carrington, who retires at month-end after serving in that capacity for 18 years.
Among those involved in saluting him as the community’s longest serving chief public servant at the Evening Of Appreciation event at the Guyana Pegasus Hotel, were CARICOM’s chairman Prime Minister Bruce Golding of Jamaica, Guyana’s Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, Deputy Secretary General Lolita Applewhaite and Jennifer Britton, president of the Secretariat Staff Association.
Views may differ, and not only among public and private sector leaders of the region, about the achievements and problems of CARICOM, now in its 37th year, as well as the roles played by Sir Edwin as its “chief servant”. Indeed, there is much concern about the current state of affairs of the region’s economic integration movement.
Nevertheless, it remains the case that, for all its real and perceived deficiencies, there is no alternative at present to our community of 15 member states continuing to swim together, however rough the waters. For, as all CARICOM governments should know, drowning separately would be the harsh reality in an increasingly globalised environment.
The rich and powerful, after all, show little patience for engaging in bilateral relations with a group of small states and vulnerable economies in this and other regions. Multilateral relations is the order of the day.
Hence the anxieties so often expressed by major donor nations that are among our leading trade and economic partners to engage in negotiations with CARiCOM as a bloc of sovereign states.
In this context, it seems regrettable that after 37 years of existence, and with Sir Edwin serving as secretary general for almost half of this period, CARICOM finds itself “searching” for a new secretary general amid deep concerns about success in emerging with the most qualified candidate to deal with outstanding issues and grapple with the challenges ahead.
After the caucus at last July’s CARICOM Summit in Jamaica, arrangements should immediately have been initiated to find a new secretary general, rather than waiting to first receive Sir Edwin’s letter of notification on demitting office from this year end.
More important, the criteria for selecting a new secretary general should have been linked to specific proposals for a much needed new governance structure to ensure more effective administration of the affairs of the community.
This was not done.