OUR CARIBBEAN: Challenges for two PMs
CONSISTENT WITH a policy on “lead responsibility” for portfolio allocations among Heads of Government of our 15-member Caribbean Community, a Prime Minister of Barbados has traditionally been responsible for advancing arrangements for the promised single market and economy (CSME), while his/her Trinidad and Tobago counterpart holds the portfolio dealing with crime and security.
The discouraging news is that for all the stirring annual rhetoric, mixed with pathetic apologias at their “summits” and ministerial meetings, the promises on the CSME remain unfulfilled after ten long years.
Notwithstanding official assurances on a relevant framework for practical co-operation on crime and security, there remains “darkness” on such initiatives, while the criminal rampage continues to afflict member states.
The first meeting of Caricom government leaders for 2017 is scheduled for next month in Guyana at the Community Secretariat on both of these vital issues.However, do not hold your breath while looking forward to official disclosures for something new in relation to battling the crime epidemic or the threat of terroristic activities, given the recent disclosure of jihadist activists using their skills and connections to fund terrorism abroad.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Legal Affairs Minister Stuart Young recently highlighted the bizarre practice in obtaining foreign exchange to help fund the spreading terrorism that continues to waste lives.
More than being as candid as possible with the people of Trinidad and Tobago in combating this dangerous development, Prime Minister Keith Rowley would be expected to also be forthcoming in updating his Caricom colleagues on the related crime and security threats facing the region in general, consistent with the “lead responsibility” portfolio he currently holds.
Given the current depressing scenario of blood-letting from gun-related murders and robberies in Trinidad and Tobago, it will be challenging for Rowley to be as forthright as possible in offering an assessment in relation to the general scenario on crime and security. Yet this is what’s expected of him at this time.
Likewise, a fortright assessment would be expected from the Prime Minister of Barbados, Freundel Stuart, who may well be attending his last Heads of Government Meeting before new parliamentary elections in this second term for his Democratic Labour Party administration.
As I recall, when he last offered a candid assessment of the functioning of arrangements for the CSME, it was to urge “a pause” for further action later.
The painful truth is that the CSME seems to be in a state of permanent coma. And it is up to Mr Stuart to prove otherwise when he meets with his colleagues next month in Guyana at the Caricom Secretariat.
GOODBYE: Well, after some 32 years of this, my weekly Our Caribbean column, the time has come to say “goodbye” to readers. Also, to express my sincere appreciation to past and current NATION management and successive teams of editorial colleagues for their enabling professional and moral support. As we face our respective challenges in and beyond 2017, let me also thank the countless NATION readers who have kept company with me over these decades. Best of wishes.
• Rickey Singh is a noted Caribbean journalist.