Learning from OECS progress
THE ORGANISATION of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) continues to offer examples of lessons to be learnt on economic and functional cooperation by the rest of the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
Having taken the bold, historic step last year to inaugurate an economic union of the eight countries of that sub-region, the OECS governments are finalizing arrangements to restructure the St Lucia-based secretariat to function as a commission that would more effectively discharge various mandates under the Revised Treaty of Basseterre that provides the legal foundation for that union.
At the special meeting last month in Antigua, the OECS Authority – which comprises the Heads of Government – prioritised matters for advancing implementation of the union, including adoption of the Revised Treaty of Basseterre into domestic law. In contrast, the other member states of the Community, along with those of the OECS, continue to prolong frustration by their repeated failures to implement decisions to advance arrangements for a CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) in accordance with provisions of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.
Consequently, while the OECS Authority is ensuring by collective action having relevant mechanisms for effective functioning of the economic union, the CARICOM Heads of Government to expedite arrangements to overhaul the Georgetown-based Community Secretariat.
A “search committee” is yet to come forward with firm nominations of at least two potential candidates for possible selection as a new CARICOM secretary general, a post vacant since the retirement of Edwin Carrington.
Decisions postponed when CARICOM leaders met in Grenada last February for the first of their half yearly inter-sessional meetings, included the future administrative structure of the secretariat.
The OECS Authority has already arranged to meet again next month to further address issues such as practical options in the operations and geographic spread of joint and national overseas representation as well as financing of the economic union.
Meanwhile, arrangements are being quietly pursued for a special retreat of CARICOM Heads in Guyana next month, with the promise of taking some overdue hard decisions that could effectively move the regional integration movement forward and, by so doing, arrest the growing cynicism over unfulfilled expectations.
The OECS leaders cannot honestly separate themselves from the implementation failures that continue to plague CARICOM’s progress towards a seamless regional economy, or the related and more immediate challenge of finding a new secretary general to head a restructured – and, hopefully, empowered – secretariat.