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OUR CARIBBEAN: Realities after PM Stuart’s Caricom take

Rickey Singh

OUR CARIBBEAN: Realities after PM Stuart’s Caricom take

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Given the nature of his topic (The Global Crisis: An Opportunity For Collaboration And Cohesion Between CARICOM And Member States) for the sixth Distinguished Alumni Lecture last week at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus, it was inevitable that Prime Minister Freundel Stuart would have focused on the significance of collective commitment to make a reality of the promised seamless regional economy via the CSME.
The CSME is supposedly the flagship project of our 15-member Community, now in its 39th year. But its pledged inauguration dates have already been twice postponed amid a plethora of excuses and official rationalizations.
Commendably, Prime Minister Stuart told his audience that all CARICOM states should forget about trying to battle the global financial recession as individual countries and, instead, unite “as never before” to ensure the essence of regional integration through a functioning CSME.
Other Barbadian Prime Ministers and their Community counterparts have been varyingly stressing the importance of this critical message, particularly at their annual summits and inter-sessional meetings.
While a Barbadian Prime Minister always held lead portfolio responsibility for the CSME, no single Community Head of Government or member state could justifiably be blamed for barriers still preventing required systematic progress in the implementation of the envisioned single economy.
All leaders and member countries are culpable. Ask the weary and frustrated regional technocrats who have diligently laboured to produce working documents that outline required policies and sequential implementation approaches to make a lived reality of the CSME!
Some political leaders find cover in referencing the long period it took to make a reality of today’s European Union (EU). But they often do so without mentioning the comparable progress achieved and lessons the EU Commission has to offer integration movements like ours that continue to benefit from trade, economic and technical assistance.
Perhaps when Barbados’ election date is finally announced – more likely before Christmas – the decision-makers of the governing Democratic Labour Party and the Opposition Barbados Labour Party should include as a must-do in their public education campaign at least one live televised debate between Mr Stuart and Opposition Leader Owen Arthur on the importance of the CSME for Barbados and its Community partners.
The future of the CSME, as well as continuing relationship between CARICOM countries with the “Petro-Caribe” oil facility initiated and being sustained by Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez, holds much importance for our regional economic integration movement in face of a stubborn global economic recession.
• Rickey Singh is a noted Caribbean ­journalist.