June 9, 2023

OUR CARIBBEAN: Decisive challenge for Caricom

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bloc-ourcaribbean-new2646-450x303By Rickey Singh, From Nationnews Barbados

IN RESPONSE to the governance challenges his fledgling Jamaica Labour Party administration faces as it cautiously navigates the country out of very difficult economic and social challenges, Prime Minister Andrew Holness has opted to engage in an old political device used during British colonial rule.
In this case, the creation of a special commission to review for speedy resolution a seemingly persistent problem Jamaica seems to have as a member state of CARICOM that it helped establish back in July 1973 as this region’s economic integration movement. The country is committed also to functional cooperation and the pursuit of a common foreign policy.
It’s the sovereign right of all independent states to undertake a review of the benefits and challenges of membership involvement in CARICOM. It’s also relevant to note that other Community partner states have occasionally found it expedient, or necessary, to reference “problems” encountered that conflict with domestic economic, social and political challenges.
In relation to the review commission commissioned by Prime Minister Holness – to be headed by former Prime Minister Bruce Golding – it’s pertinent to observe that it has come against the backdrop of persistent complaints over claimed unfair, even degrading and unlawful treatment of Jamaicans by Trinidad and Tobago immigration authorities on arrival, either for vacation or business.
Amid media reportings, including rebuttals by Trinidadian immigration authorities, both the Kingston administration of Holness and that of Prime Minister Keith Rowley in Port of Spain have been keeping cool publicly as their nationals, and the wider Community, await the outcome of complaints against malpractices, including unlawful treatment, against detained Jamaican visitors.
Whatever the outcome of investigations into the reported multiple incidents of indecent and/or unlawful treatment of Jamaican visitors by T&T’s immigration authorities, it is of significance that Holness has found it necessary to appoint his former prime minister and party leader to head a special commission to conduct a general ‘review’ of Jamaica/CARICOM relations.
“The time has come,” according to Holness, for Jamaica to “fully assess the benefits, opportunities and challenges of CARICOM and in such a way that Jamaica gets the full benefits that membership of CARICOM promises”.
Well, for starters, the unanimously approved Treaty of Chaguaramas that brought into force the Community and all subsequent changes made were never intended to either discriminate or place at a disadvantage any signatory member state of the Community.
The Heads of Government – who keep changing via the electoral process – would know that unpalatable, at times, regional and international trade, economic and political factors have made necessary for changes in the rules of engagement in the functioning of the Community’s trade, economic and social policies.
However, it would be quite revealing for any government or reputable business organisation to come forward with evidence of a member country knowingly flouting provisions of the Community treaty to the detriment of the integration movement – whether, in the area of trade, economic development, foreign policy or functional cooperation that extends to immigration policies. For instance, the prevailing problems involving Trinidad and Tobago immigration services and affected nationals of Jamaica.
There are numerous meetings, month after month, year after year, involving relevant experienced officials, cabinet ministers as well as scheduled conferences of Heads of Government, at least twice a year.
Surely, the current problem identified by the Jamaica government that has necessitated the review commission could not have escaped the attention over the many months of various meetings by officials, cabinet ministers and those of Heads of Government.
No Community member state can be allowed to flout established rules and practices with impunity while the primary organ of CARICOM – the Heads of Government Conference – either ignores or fails to pursue relevant corrective initiatives in the best interest of the stated official commitment to foster the required economic integration and functional co-operation for “People of One Community”.
• Rickey Singh is a noted Caribbean journalist.

For more on this story go to: http://www.nationnews.com/nationnews/news/81824/caribbean-decisive-challenge-caricom#sthash.y0CmA7WE.dpuf

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