Leaders taking fresh guard
BASSETERRE, St Kitts – Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders ended their second day of deliberations here today aware of the need to implement new strategies that would make the integration movement more relevant and result oriented.
Guyana’s President, Bharrat Jagdeo told reporters that he was pleased so far with the discussions that included the situation in Haiti, the ongoing efforts to restructure the Guyana-based CARICOM Secretariat and the need to “focus more on results rather than process.
“For too long we have held up those lofty ideals of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (which governs the regional integration movement) almost in a sacred way without focusing enough on how we break those down into projects and programmes…so that we can create real benefits for people.
“The only way we can change the perception of CARICOM is not that it is vibrant and relevant, it is not just to do a public relations job, but the more ordinary people can feel regional initiative impacting on their lives…then they will start to say CARICOM is working”
“So we agreed to that and there is that sense of urgency that we need to create the mechanism for that new approach. A change in mind set, we have had a report from the consultants on the restructuring of the Secretariat and everyone who spoke said that it has to be results oriented, everything in the Secretariat had to surround results.”
Jagdeo said that the discussions on the appointment of a new Secretary General for the 15-member grouping had continued with the emphasis being placed on finding someone “who we feel could lead that challenge”.
“I think things are going well so far. We may in the long run have to shorten the summit. If the European Union with 27 countries can meet in half a day I think we can do it in a day and a half and have a tight, tight agenda with very practical outcomes.”
He said Thursday night’s five and a half hour opening ceremony had “created an urgency on the part of all of the Heads that we could not go to a pre-Guyana situation…when we had the retreat there we said we have to make a difference now.
“We have to focus more on results rather than process,” he said, adding that while his country’s constitution barred him from seeking a third consecutive term in office, he was prepared “whatever I can do to continue to support regional initiative I would do so”.
But he made it clear that he was not interested in accepting the position of Secretary General to replace Sir Edwin Carrington, who stepped down as the region’s top public servant after 18 years at the start of 2011.
“I will be a private citizen which I am not unhappy to be,” he said, adding when the suggestion was made for him to take over from Sir Edwin “ I said I don’t want to be secretary general of CARICOM”.
Asked to explain his decision, Jagdeo laughed adding “I am just not cut out for it, I am not cut out for it.I don’t want to get into all of that. I just would not like to be secretary general of CARICOM.
“I am not looking for a job right now,” he said.
The CARICOM summit provides an opportunity for the regional prime minister to hold talks with government leaders from outside the grouping and Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos said he was looking forward to the region’s participation in the upcoming Sixth Summit of the Americas next year in Cartagena.
CARICOM leaders also held talks with the Secretary General of the Organisation of American States (OAS) José Miguel Insulza on a wide range of issues.
Prior to the meeting, the OAS Assistant Secretary general, Albert Ramdin, said he hoped the summit here would send a strong a strong statement of support as it relates to Haiti.
Meanwhile, St Lucia has received US$6.1 million in grant and loans from Barbados-based CARICOM Development Fund (CDF).
Prime Minister Stephenson King and CDF chief executive officer Ambassador Lorne Mc Donnough today signed a Country Assistance Programme Agreement aimed at assisting the island recover from the damage caused by Hurricane Tomas last October.
Under the agreement, the manufacturing sector will benefit from a US$3.73 million loan which will be administered by the St. Lucia Development Bank (SLDB), while other US$2.37 million would be in grant form. (CMC)