EDITORIAL: The ‘deficit’ crisis facing Caricom
AS HEADS OF GOVERNMENT of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) prepare to participate next month in their first half-yearly meeting for 2012, some critical questions are being raised by one of the region’s highly respected thinkers, Dr Norman Girvan.
His focus is on the unflattering assessment of the current state of CARICOM and, more specifically, his response to the findings of a Project Management Team report that underscores a “crisis” that’s sufficiently severe to the regional economic integration movement’s “very existence”.
The report was done by British-based international consultancy firm Landell Mills Ltd on the basis of a contract awarded by the CARICOM Secretariat, as approved by the Community’s Heads of Government.
The region’s public deserves to be reminded that the report, which is quite critical of the prevailing administrative architecture of CARICOM, is the latest in a series of commissioned studies on the functioning of the secretariat and the future of a community officially committed to being transformed into the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
Regrettably, one of the sad truths about CARICOM, now moving into its 39th year of existence, is the litany of failures by our Heads of Government to summon the commitment – which they so often express – to implement at least the core recommendations that pertain to the need for a new governance structure for the region’s integration movement.
Not surprisingly, therefore, when Girvan read in the report that “CARICOM is in crisis” and unless “there is evidence of fundamental change”, the community “could expire slowly over the next few years as stakeholders begin to vote with their feet”, he was reminded of his own blunt assessment to the region’s governments seven years ago.
“The pessimistic scenario,” he wrote then, “is for fragmentation of the community and eventual abandonment of the CSME as an objective. This could result [in] loss of momentum [for] the integration movement; the growth of implementation fatigue among governments and of ‘implementation cynicism’ in the general public; waning political support for integration and increased economic divergence.”
About 20 years ago, the West Indian Commission (headed by Sir Shridath Ramphal) had sternly warned in its seminal Time For Action Report against the dangers for CARICOM of a widening “implementation deficit”.
Are CARICOM leaders now sufficiently challenged to arrest the significant “implementation deficit” facing them by taking action on the Landell Mills-initiated report at their coming meeting in Suriname, starting on March 8?
Not, it is cynically felt, on the evidence of a glaring lack of coordinated response to significantly advance progress to make the CSME, the community’s branded “flagship project”, a reality.