Saturday, March 28, 2009

Caribbean community face yet so many problem inside the CARICOM policy ideal.




Editorials
Stop the world, Caricom wants to get off!
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Spinning top in mud, as they say in Trinidad and Tobago, is the kindest way to describe the failure by the recently concluded Caricom Heads of Government meeting to formulate a regional plan to cope with the global financial crisis.
Nothing new or interesting emerged to restart the stalled and frequently postponed Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) project. No specifics on how to capitalise on the Summit of the Americas to be hosted in April in Port of Spain. No progress to date on the implementation of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). And the team to negotiate the trade agreement with Canada, which was announced eight years ago, is yet to be approved.
This is inexplicable, given the importance and urgency of the issues, and especially where the few decisions taken seem to be more harmful than helpful to the region. What, for example, could be the rationale for absorbing the Regional Negotiating Machinery (RNM) into the turgid bureaucracy of the Caricom Secretariat?
What the outcomes of the Heads meetings have in common is that they indicate a regional reluctance to deal with globalisation and the global economic crisis.
There are three reactions to globalisation, which have now complicated the global economic crisis. The first and most propitious option is engagement with the determination to survive and the conviction that it is possible to thrive. Those who succeed are proactive, creative and strategic in their thinking and policy making. It is not easy for any country, especially a small developing economy, to make it.
Second, supplication for foreign aid, debt forgiveness and preferential trade arrangements. These are habit-forming substances which reinforce a dependent mentality, accompanied by the myth of justification that one is small. This illusion of entitlement is still widespread in Caricom.
Third, do nothing and hope for the best. This passive stance emerged because the Caricom Heads of Government were exhausted by the fundamentalism emanating from the poorest and worst managed economy in Latin America and the Caribbean. Undaunted by the embarrassing failure to reopen the EPA negotiations, they have induced the region into policy paralysis.
Absorbing the RNM into the Secretariat is a triumph of form over substance. The rationale eludes us because the deficiencies in the Caricom Secretariat which led to the establishment of the RNM persist. In fact, there is even less technical competence in the Secretariat now than then. The parlous state of the CSME does not engender confidence in the Secretariat. What the RNM achieved in 10 years, Caricom has not in 20 years. It is yet to complete the CSME, which is its central mission.
No one can blame Jamaica's Prime Minister Bruce Golding if he has become exasperated with Caricom. After all, he knows that Jamaica and the rest of the world cannot wait on Caricom.
The dual crises of the world economy and Caricom need bold vision, courage to act and purposeful pragmatism. Put simply, this is the stuff of real leadership that is urgently needed at the political level and in key regional institutions.
The region's long-serving leaders certainly disprove the cricket adage: "Stay at the wicket, runs will come." At least England had the good sense to drop Ken Barrington who merely wanted to stay at the wicket, regardless of output.
For Caricom, it's a case of 'Stop the world, we want to get off!'

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