CARICOM leaders criticized by political scientist

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados: Political scientist, Professor Neville Duncan, has criticized regional governments for taking a “very long time” in appointing a new secretary general for the regional integration movement, but said he had confidence in the person elected to “do great things”.

Last week, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders announced that Dominican-born Irwin LaRocque, the present Assistant Secretary-General for Trade and Economic Integration at the Guyana-based CARICOM Secretariat, would replace Sir Edwin Carrington, who resigned in January after 18 years in the post.

Duncan said that the regional leaders “knew long ago that the former secretary general was going, had to go, and to me it was just typical of the process in dealing with CARICOM”.

“The person selected is of course capable of doing great things for the CARICOM Secretariat but my greatest disappointment is that you would have expected to hear from CARICOM what are the new terms of reference of the Secretariat,” said Duncan.

Duncan said that there has been a report that had been prepared for a long time that LaRocque’s predecessor “sat on and really we should have heard what are the new roles and functions.

“They can’t expect the new man to come in and define his new role and function. It has to be the CARICOM heads who do that kind of thing,” said Duncan, adding “again, true to form, they are slipping up on the job”.

Duncan said the leaders had been trying to get the region excited by the prospects of a rejuvenated CARICOM and a reformed Secretariat, but asked questions such as “where its activities would be” or whether “they would all be in Guyana (where the Secretariat is based) or will they be spread around the region.

“What exactly are they planning to do with that Secretariat and to what use will they put it to ensure quality regional integration? None of that was spoken about and I am very disappointed,” he said.

Duncan said he expects there will be new formats relating to the heads of governments meeting and how decisions are made.

“I think most of the decisions should be approved at the national level first before coming to the CARICOM heads of government meeting…and the Secretariat should ensure that such activities are well coordinated and done in a timely manner so that heads of governments meetings are not a waste of time.”

The noted Caribbean academic said that several papers had been done on CARICOM – including those by the University of the West Indies (UWI) – which have not been implemented.

“So how do you put in a Secretariat to work supposedly with this new governance structure and we don’t know what either is,” said Duncan. “All those reports have been sat on, you know, they have not been made public. We don’t even know whether good sense was proposed in these various reports.”

Duncan said another problem facing CARICOM is the lack of a regional television program that CARICOM should be responsible for “identifying CARICOM developments, outcomes, successes, issues that are going on, revealing what is exciting about each CARICOM country”.

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