Action ‘needed by CARICOM’
ST GEORGE’S – Caribbean Community (CARICOM) governments began a two-day intersessional summit in Grenada yesterday, stressing the need for action on critical issues.
Host Prime Minister and CARICOM Chairman Tillman Thomas said that the new compelling economic, environmental and geographical developments as well as the “ebullient expectations and the increasing scepticism of our restless Caribbean people” should provide the impetus for the meeting here to be both “pivotal and historic”.
He said the region was constantly being reminded of its fragility and vulnerability and that the damage caused by Hurricane Tomas and the earthquake in Haiti were still “very fresh in our minds as we continue to deal with their negative impact and consequences”.
Thomas said that the Caribbean’s openness and intricate link to the economies of its main trading partners “render us somewhat incapacitated “and, as a result, the region now finds itself grappling with the impact and consequences of a crisis” it did not create.
“And, as if that is not enough, we are now confronting another round of rising fuel and food prices,” he said.
He told the meeting that in the face of all the problems Caribbean people were becoming restless “as we appear to be languishing in a state of implementation impotence in our slow march towards the CSME (CARICOM Single Market and Economy)”.
He added: “Others suggest that our preoccupation with survival issues has led to a neglect of integration matters. Yet some are also of the view that our actions sometimes contradict our public rhetoric.”
Earlier, Jamaica’s Prime Minister Bruce Golding told his regional colleagues that they would have to address the “persistent” concerns that CARICOM was not working.
He said it was almost a generation ago that the West Indian Commission under Sir Shridath Ramphal had provided a “clinical assessment of our deficiencies”.
Professor Norman Girvan highlighted what he called “our implementation deficit” and warned that Caribbean people were now lamenting a “sense of deficit benefit”, Golding noted.
He said that the region faced the real danger that if the people of the Caribbean did not see in CARICOM the chance of the fulfilment of their hopes and aspirations “they will look beyond CARICOM for their salvation”. (CMC)
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