OUR CARIBBEAN: Better days coming for CARICOM?
Secretary General of the Caribbean Community, Irwin LaRocque, was in an agreeable mood when he met the media Tuesday at the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) for an informal discussion on the functioning of the Georgetown-based Secretariat and challenges facing regional integration.
The exchanges followed rounds of meetings LaRocque held within the first two days of his official three-day visit that0 started Monday at Ilaro Court with Prime Minister Fruendel Stuart. He subsequently met with president of the Caribbean Development Bank, Dr Warren Smith.
LaRocque said he was keen to welcome new ideas and initiatives that could enable CARICOM to better achieve policies and programmes consistent with the revised treaty and agreed that changes may have to occur in several areas.
He signalled that apart from more fundamental adjustments that may have to be pursued, the format of Heads Of Government Summits and ministerial meetings should also be reviewed.
Also, new approaches for vigorous and relevant communication to more effectively sensitise people to the problems, achievements and challenges of CARICOM.
He agreed to suggestions offered for separate meetings with the owners and decision-makers of both the private and public sector media to develop a new partnership in the information flow and as well as critical assessments of CARICOM’s progress and shortcomings.
The continuing failure of ministers responsible for information and communication, and the virtual non-engagement by leading government and media officials to devise better ways to inform and sustain interest in the major areas of economic integration, functional cooperation, and cultural and environmental issues, also surfaced.
Mention was made of the keen interest once displayed by governments that had resulted in the inauguration of the Caribbean News Agency (CANA). Comments then followed on the apparent lack of interest by governments and leading media enterprises to enable CMC to overcome crippling financial disadvantages to provide much more needed intra-regional flows of information, news and views.
In the spirit of the free and candid discussion, LaRocque agreed to consider approaches with governments, corporate interests – like One Caribbean Media (OCM) – of which the Nation Publishing Company is a part, and also the management of the CMC.
As LaRocque seeks to remove, hopefully, the sloth in implementation of CARICOM decisions, we can only hope that better days will be forthcoming for CARICOM.