January 25, 2021

OUR CARIBBEAN: Fresh optimism for unity

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bloc-ourcaribbean-new2646-450x303By Ricky Singh From Barbados Nation News

WHILE WE AWAIT this evening’s communiqué on decisions from the three-day 37th annual summit of () leaders, the prime ministers of Jamaica (Andrew Holness) and Trinidad and Tobago (Keith Rowley) have already generated fresh optimism for regional unity against the backdrop of recurring negative complaints involving issues of trade and freedom of movement.
The promised consensus, even prior to Monday’s official opening ceremony, was to steer away from any “Brexit-like” behaviour in favour of enhanced co-operation and unity.
This attitude reflects a political realism that for all of CARICOM’s real and imagined weaknesses, there is no sensible alternative to making the Community a better ship for sailing through “rough waters”.
Hence, the welcomed reassurance by Holness, even before leaving home for the summit – that the CARICOM “commission” he had appointed to address problems Jamaica is confronting with some partner states, should not be viewed as signalling a likely “pull-out” from membership of the Community.
Submit findings
Separately, and not surprisingly, the chairman of the “review commission”, , a former prime minister and former leader of the ruling , has already warned that “no groundwork” would be laid for Jamaica’s “exit” from CARICOM.
The commission has an estimated six-month work agenda to submit its findings and recommendations.
Rowley, making his debut appearance as a head of government, but quite acquainted by previous work experiences as a cabinet minister with the policies and programmes of CARICOM, has already emphasised his intention to put an end to what he views as a “mischievous falsehood” that Jamaicans were not welcome in Trinidad and Tobago.
Media reports, in and out of Jamaica, about recurring unpleasant experiences for Jamaicans with Trinidad and Tobago’s police and immigration officials, have evidently made necessary Rowley’s scheduled July 17 to 21 official visit to Kingston to deal with this problem which, as expected, would have been informally discussed with his Jamaican counterpart during the CARICOM summit.
It is hoped that the end-of-summit communique would not be crowded with too much of the customary rhetoric and jargon. Rather, it would provide basic information on decisions taken on outstanding, unresolved issues, and identify actions to be pursued within set time frames.
There remain questions over a lingering credibility gap involving the political directorate (heads of government and ministerial councils) and implementation of decisions unanimously taken.
Not among priorities
If the Georgetown-based secretariat is indeed functioning, as expected, with required competence and efficiency and member governments are likewise ensuring required co-operation, then why the recurring yawning gaps in implementation of decisions taken at meetings by heads and/or ministerial councils for which taxpayers are paying?
It is not pleasant to observe that too many member governments seem to behave as if, once scheduled CARICOM heads and ministerial meetings have occurred and press releases made – however vague on decisions – that communicating on a regular basis with the region’s people is not among their “priorities”.
It is also relevant to observe that the perceived lack of initiatives and public silence by both the region’s umbrella private sector and labour movement organisations, CARICOM heads and assigned ministers and diplomats do not seem to sense any need to be pro-active in the functioning of the Community Secretariat and member governments to ensure implementation of decisions taken in support of the vision and programmes of the Caribbean Community.
• Rickey Singh is a noted Caribbean journalist.
For more on this story go to: http://www.nationnews.com/nationnews/news/82917/caribbean-fresh-optimism-unity

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