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LEFT OF CENTRE: Try harder or call it a day

Brian Francis

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At one of the recent CARICOM Heads of Government meetings there were calls by our leaders to examine governance structure for the regional body to, among other things, facilitate the implementation of policies deemed relevant to the advancement of the region’s economies and peoples.
To that end, technical experts would have been charged with the responsibility of determining which model, from among a list of three, would be the best governance structure for the Caribbean community going forward.
While I have no problem with the incorporation of ideas from outside, it is imperative that we take a hard and serious look at our own circumstances and experiences and based on those considerations, come up with a model that is specific to our situation.
If, as we have been told many times, the countries of the region are unique and need special and differential treatment, then logically the people of the region ought to expect a governance structure that reflects those realities.
Simply borrowing models from outside and making some adjustments to cater to the needs of CARICOM will not cut it in the long run.
Indeed, we live in challenging times. The global economy is not at all friendly at this time. And the information coming out of major international news outfits is not encouraging.
Recently, the International Monetary Fund has said that recovery in the global economy will not be as speedy as some had expected.
Moreover, the chairman of the commission established by President Barack Obama to study the United States’ debt situation suggested that on the basis of current trends, the American economy is heading towards bankruptcy and collapse.
Logically, the cumulative effects of these two phenomena would spell doom for small, open economies like those in the Caribbean that are already languishing under the pressure of an already weak global economy – the consequence of the financial and economic crisis that has gripped the world’s economies for the past two to three years.
Once again, our economies are being challenged to make amends. Our leaders must accept that it cannot be business as usual.
A coherent response in this regard has to be more effort to bring the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) to fruition.
Based on the information I have heard coming out of the most recent Heads of Government meeting, I am not seeing enough seriousness from our leaders in relation to advancing the integration process.
A greater sense of urgency is needed from all and sundry if we as a people are to protect the economic and social gains we have made since our independence from Great Britain.
To achieve this objective, there must be much more interaction among the people of the region.
There must be a greater exchange of ideas and people must come to the realization that regional integration is good for all – anything short of that can be characterized as an ultimate failure and a missed opportunity.