Caricom’s failure to foster sustained economic growth, development

first_imgDear Editor,At the opening ceremony of the 28th Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of Caricom which was held in Guyana on February 16; Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, Caricom Secretary General, and Chairman, David Granger, failed once again to present meaningful and concrete policies and programmes for implementation for the social and economic growth and development of Community Members to enable them to service their heavy debts and provide employment opportunities for their people.Ambassador LaRocque reported that considerable progress was made towards these objectives through execution of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) Agreement which allows for the free movement of skills (people), goods, services and the establishment of businesses within the Community. Since approval of this agreement, however, the facts suggest otherwise as there has been little compliance with its intent, particularly regarding the free movement of people among states and money transfers from one territory to the other without restrictions as Trinidadians recently found. Further, there has been no pooling of resources to tackle the common problems member states share.Over the years, there has been little economic development, while production has been declining in various member states. Trinidad’s economy, the Region’s largest, has been declining due to low oil and gas prices and diminishing production, while in Guyana, the sugar industry, the country’s largest employer, is heavily indebted and with continual operating losses, it could go under anytime with devastating effect to its workers. The A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) government is clueless as to what should be done as it struggles to find meaningful solutions for the welfare of its displaced sugar workers. The global/Caribbean Hotel Industry (Tourism Sector) is saturated after a 20-year building boom and therefore it cannot be a primary driver for economic growth and to attract significant investment to create jobs as Ambassador LaRocque depicted.Ambassador LaRocque continues to be a dreamer. He postulated at the meeting that Information and Communications Technology, “is critical to the development and advancement of the Region”. This may well be so, but he failed to state that the Region does not have the infrastructure, nor a pool of trained workforce to support such a sector which will take years to develop. Guyana has no training programme for its best and brightest willing to pursue a career in ICT but as Chairman Granger could have attested, his APNU/AFC government has been lending support for the training of lawyers hopefully to boost Guyana’s economy.Crime and security are indeed critical to the development and advancement of the Region, particularly for tourism areas. Many Caribbean-born criminals living in the United States (US) will soon be returning to the Region in droves as President Trump’s ICE Team rounds them up for deportation to their respective country. The Caribbean Community (Caricom) has no plan to integrate these people back into society so they could once again become useful and productive citizens. Could the Secretariat offer its members guidance to deal with the impending problems the criminals are likely to pose on return to their Caribbean Communities, or will it be satisfied to just identify them and leave it at that?Guyanese should be wary and concerned about their continued membership of Caricom, an organisation which has become costly to operate and maintain, while its bureaucrats lack the expertise to advise members solve their political, social and economic problems in meaningful ways. It was therefore not surprising that the Prime Minister of Trinidad, Keith Rowley, had seen the light of day and decided to take ‘the bull by the horn,’ as he recently contacted President Trump to discuss issues of mutual interest and to strengthen relationship with his country.Yours truly,Charles Sohanlast_img

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