CARICOM over-ambitious, needs to prioritise – Secty. General

CARICOM over-ambitious, needs to prioritise – Secty. General

(Demerara Waves) – February 29, 2012

CARICOM Secretary-General (SG) Irwin La Rocque says the region has been overly-ambitious in its integration targets and that the 2015 deadline to achieve the framework of a Single Economy is unattainable.

He made the comment on Wednesday at a business luncheon hosted by the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GM&SA). Those in attendance included top diplomatic envoys from the United States, Canada, Britain and the European Union. Others included Suriname’s Ambassador to Guyana, Manorma Soeknandan and the Director General of Guyana’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, Ambassador Elisabeth Harper.

LaRocque noted that the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) was launched in 2006 and a year later it was announced that by 2015 the framework of a fully functional Single Economy, including a single currency would be in place.

“That 2015 target will not be met.  We made then, as we continue to make now, the same mistake we made in 1989 at Grand Anse.  We set ourselves over-ambitious and unrealistic targets; targets, which by their very nature, doom us to apparent failure when they are not met.

I am not suggesting that we must set targets that allow for a leisurely pace.  The world is not waiting on us.  But what I am suggesting is that we must set targets which take into account not only the necessity and urgency of achieving the goal, but equally important, what it takes to get there and the resources available to us to do so,” the SG stated.

According to LaRocque, the CSME still remains as relevant today as when it was conceived in 1989 and to fulfill its objectives the region needs to do business differently, a view supported by the report of the independent consultants looking at the restructuring of the CARICOM Secretariat.

“While focusing on the CARICOM Secretariat, the Consultants have emphasized that reform of all our Institutions, Organs and systems is a prerequisite to achieving the results we all desire.  They also contend that we need to be more realistic about the constraints posed by geography, lack of size physically and in respect of markets.

Importantly, he added, the Report which will be considered by Heads of Government at next week’s Inter-Sessional Meeting in Suriname, also indicates it is essential for the Region to decide on what it can and cannot do.

“There is just so much that can be done given our realities, and the time has come for us to cut our suit to fit the cloth with which we have been endowed. This is nothing new.  I have been saying this since coming into office.  The Community needs to prioritise,” LaRocque added.

“We need to agree on these critical things that must get done; focus on them; get them done; and get them off the regional agenda so that we can take on new realistic priorities.  The current mode of trying to get everything done at the same time is inefficient and contributes to gridlock, the so-called implementation deficit.”

According to the SG, stakeholders across the region all see the hope and promise of CARICOM but are troubled by the seeming inability to bring to fruition the plans, programmes and projects that have been announced over the years, and the decisions that wait to be implemented.

“The message so far has been clear: move with urgency to fulfill the goals of integration; or at least deliver on what you say you will deliver.  This has held true whether from the youth, the proverbial man in the street or the private sector,” he added.

The role of the Secretariat in all this, LaRocque said, will be determined in large measure by the response of the Heads of Government to the Report of the Independent Consultants.

— Post #1155

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