ST. JOHN’S: Antigua & Barbuda’s Ambassador to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Dr. Clarence Henry, has called for the appointment of a chief executive officer to oversee the affairs of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
The CSME allows for the free movement of goods, skills, labour and services across the region and is regarded by Caribbean leaders as a mechanism for deepening the regional integration process.
However, some aspects of the initiative, particularly the free movement of skills, have come under greater scrutiny as nationals of various countries complain about the obstacles preventing the full implementation of the CSME.
Speaking at the Broadcasters Workshop on Regional Integration and the CSME, which concluded in St. John’s last week, Dr. Henry said there has been a longstanding need for the appointment of a chief executive officer for the CSME.
“The time has come for someone, a person of eminence, a professional, a person with credibility to be appointed as a person charged with the responsibility to drive what we have been trying to do for so long,” he said.
Henry said the selected candidate must have certain powers “so that at the end of the day, this project that we have been long working on can be realized to the benefit of all, not only for some, but for all countries”.
Earlier in the workshop, CSME Program Manager Ivor Carryl said the diversity of member states was making smooth and full regional integration difficult. He said CARICOM should examine the successes of the sub-regional Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and its Economic Union on how to achieve regional integration in a much more beneficial way.
“The amount of diversity is making it difficult for us to advance because there is so much difference, but what the OECS has done, is capitalize on the similarities of subsets that can come to agreements that a number of CARICOM member states still cannot come to,” he said.
Henry had also argued that the challenges diversity pose can only be overcome if CARICOM leaders begin to think regionalism rather than nationalism.
“CARICOM, albeit diverse, different economic structures, we are all the same and we should continue to support each other but whenever difficulties arise there has to be a mechanism for quick response and resolution,” he said.