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EDITORIAL: Awaiting CARICOM decisions after Haiti meeting

BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

EDITORIAL: Awaiting CARICOM decisions after Haiti meeting

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With at least one third of the Caribbean Community’s 15 Heads of Government absent from the current two-day Inter-Sessional Meeting in Haiti, it would be a welcome surprise if any new initiative of significance on the way forward for the regional economic integration movement is included in the communiqué to be released this evening.
Prior to yesterday’s start of this first Heads of Government meeting in Haiti, with President Michel Martelly presiding, it was disclosed by the CARICOM Secretariat that crime and security would top the agenda.
Desirable as this may be, given the grave social and economic consequences of the crime and violence epidemic plaguing so many CARICOM countries, the reality is that virtually the entire membership of the Community is suffering from the negative effects of the global fiscal and economic recession.
And the Caribbean Development Bank just recently warned that seven of its borrowing members, including Barbados, are confronted with debt levels “that have become unsustainable.” There is also the related factor of CARICOM’s continuing failure to deal with a serious implementation deficit with respect to decisions unanimously adopted on policies and projects.
Add to this reality the merry-go-round that has come to be the norm on the much overdue restructuring of the Community Secretariat in favour of an enlightened and relevant management architecture suitable for responding to the challenges of our time and beyond.
Yet, it would be encouraging to learn from their communique that the Heads of Government and leaders of other delegations did succeed in arriving at decisions to advance positive moves in dealing with the challenging problems of crime and security as well as regional air transportation.
The discussion on regional transportation challenges was expected to have a special emphasis on concerns being expressed by a few governments about a negative impact on intra-regional carrier LIAT of the fuel subsidy being provided by the Trinidad and Tobago government to state-owned Caribbean Airlines Limited (CAL).
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves of St Vincent and the Grenadines disclosed, ahead of this meeting, his anxiety to share with Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar a legal opinion he obtained that suggests the fuel subsidy to CAL violates the letter and spirit of CARICOM’s Revised Treaty.
The Trinidad and Tobago government is not expected to be easily persuaded on the fuel subsidy issue. It would, however, be of much interest to learn what, if any, progress has been achieved by Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar in relation to her pledge to inaugurate a fast-ferry service from Port of Spain to supplement intra-regional air transport services.