EDITORIAL – Less rhetoric on strategies for development
A COLLABORATIVE effort by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and Trinidad and Tobago’s Ministry of Finance resulted in a Round Table On Caribbean Development, held last week in Port-of-Spain, at which emerged some fresh calls for “strategic regionalism” focused on avenues for greater integration.
Any serious initiative designed to stimulate informed discussions on the way forward for social and economic development in the Caribbean/Latin American region should be welcomed, particularly in view of the lingering global economic crisis. The sponsors of last week’s meeting, therefore, deserve to be commended.
At the same time, it is incumbent upon participants to pay cognizance to relevant studies and recommendations already made and yet to be acted upon when advancing ideas/recommendations of their own on “the way forward”.
This seems necessary in the context of opening remarks by Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, in addressing participants at the meeting last Thursday. She said that the round table offered an opportunity to “rewrite the development ‘destinies’ and to introduce a new path toward the long-held goals of the region”.
Okay. She went on to challenge participants to “deliberate and develop workable solutions and concrete directives to the barriers to development which may be applied on the ground in the Caribbean”.
But a question of much relevance would be: Why do changing political administrations in the Caribbean/Latin American region so frequently ignore fundamental recommendations emanating from officially-mandated studies on strategies for social, economic and cultural development, while continuing the rhetoric on, for instances, the need for “workable solutions”, as raised by the T&T Prime Minister?
Not just the current and comparatively new government of Trinidad and Tobago, but other administrations of our Caribbean Community, as well as hemispheric institutions like ECLAC, have an obligation to sensitise themselves to the wide range of reports/studies produced, at least over the past 20 years.
It is no secret that the governments of CARICOM have sustained a poor record in recurring failures to act on ideas and recommendations outlined in reports of mandated studies on the way forward for the regional economic integration movement.
Examples abound in published works for the University of the West Indies and the Community Secretariat, such as The Caribbean In The 21st Century; CARICOM Single Market And Economy – Genesis And Prognosis; and not forgetting the seminal Time For Action report of the West Indian Commission.
The real challenge today is not for the production of new studies on “strategic regionalism” that was a focus of last week’s round table in Port-of-Spain; rather, an urgent collective response by the region’s political directorate, in the case of CARICOM, to give serious consideration to prioritising time frames for implementation of ideas and recommendations outlined in reports that continue to gather dust in ministerial offices.