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Making Caricom work for the people

Rickey Singh

Making Caricom work for the people

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PETER LAURIE, the respected former diplomat and public servant of Barbados, must excuse me for drawing to the attention of the CARICOM Secretariat in Georgetown earlier this week his very insightful column as appeared in the last SUNDAY SUN on “Pan-Caribbean Capital”.
In keeping with his inimitable style, he chose to first apologetically declare to readers: “Okay, I’ve beaten this drum before”, as he moved into his discourse on the way forward for the economic progress of the Caribbean Community based on a new orientation and commitment by the region’s more enterprising entrepreneurs.
As far as I am concerned, Peter Laurie and the like should keep “beating their drums” to sustain hope, against the odds, for the long promised seamless regional economy under the CSME for “One People, One Community”.
Enlightened entrepreneurs of this region should not be allowed to fall victim to those whose lack of vision and commitment have pressed the pause button on vital areas of the CSME – including free intraregional movement of skilled community nationals. Their own domestic regulatory mechanisms and ad hoc policies often make mockery of the spirit and letter of the revised CARICOM treaty.
Entrepreneurs conscious of the gravity of the current Eurozone crisis and seized with the reality that there can be no serious alternative to making CARICOM work would know why they should not be distracted either by, for instance, the raw cynicism displayed against the Caribbean Community in The Economist’s opinion article  this past week on Half A Century Of Small Islands With Big Egos.
Much to his credit, CARICOM’s Secretary General Erwin LaRocque has been vigorously referencing the need for the CBC to get off the drawing board in interactions with business leaders across the community in an apparent new effort to beat back pessimism over the future of the regional integration movement.
The latest effort was his meeting last month in Port of Spain with the Trinidad and Tobago Coalition of Service Industries.
“It is becoming more and more evident,” he told representatives of business and government, “that the time is now for [a] more structured interface between the regional public and private sectors  and, in doing so, to include other stakeholders, such as the labour movement . . . .”
LaRocque recalled that it was with such a regional approach in mind that the Caribbean Business Council was conceived as an umbrella body to advance the interests of both the private sector and the goals of CARICOM.
Switching from “pause” mode to invigorating enthusiasm for a people-oriented community is clearly more than a challenge for governments.
• Rickey Singh is a noted Caribbean journalist. Email [email protected]