Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Dr. Gonsalves: ‘Secretariat is not CARICOM’

THE success of the CARICOM enterprise truly begins with the political leaderships, though it does not end with leaders alone.

“It ends with us, our national populations, and national institutions, massaged by the balm of our regional apparatuses,” said Chairman of CARICOM, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, who is also Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Speaking at the opening yesterday of the 25th Inter Sessional meeting in his homeland, Dr. Gonsalves said that, frequently, CARICOM is lambasted for its failure or refusal to implement the decisions of its treaty-based institutions. Invariably, according to him, the CARICOM Secretariat is excoriated for this implementation deficit.

However, he told leaders and other delegates that the Secretariat is not CARICOM.

“It is the central administrative instrument of CARICOM, but it possesses no authority to compel enforcement of decisions of the various Councils of Ministers and the Heads of State and Government Conference,” he maintained.

“In the absence of an Executive CARICOM Commission, buttressed by the requisite constitutional or legal authority, the central responsibility for the implementation of CARICOM’s decisions rests with the governments of the individual nation-states,” Dr. Gonsalves reasoned.

“Thus, each government is enjoined in its responsibility, nay its solemn obligation, to put appropriate institutional arrangements in its natural executive and administrative apparatuses to facilitate the speedy and efficacious implementation of CARICOM’s decisions,” he said.

He said that this Inter-Sessional Conference of Heads of State and Government has, nominally, a long agenda.

“Essentially, though, the subjects to be discussed or reviewed for determination have one focus: The improvement in the quality of life and living of the people of our CARICOM region.”

He has made it clear that their deliberations at this Conference do not take place in an abstract world, but in lived global, regional, and national conditions stuffed with possibilities and limitations.

According to him, “The real world of life, living, and production compel us at this time to reflect centrally on measures for strengthening our regional and national economies including the fortification of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME); addressing efficaciously the existential challenge of climate change; and improving markedly the delivery of air and sea transport.”

The CARICOM Chairman pointed as well to enhancing citizen security; facilitating socio-economic development through ICT; lifting further our region’s human and social development; and co-ordinating better our region’s foreign and external trade policies, including the settling of negotiating stances for the finalisation of the Canada-CARICOM trade pact.

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