CARIGONE AND CARICOM

CARIGONE AND CARICOM – BASIL SPRINGER COLUMN WHICH WILL APPEAR IN THE BARBADOS ADVOCATE’S BUSINESS MONDAY ON JANUARY 24, 2011
 
“I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “There are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11
 
Earlier this year one of David Jessop’s weekly contributions was entitled “Does the CSME have a future”. My contention is that whereas “CSM” is alive and well with potential for significant refinement and growth to benefit of the people, the “E” did not have a chance of emerging any greater than that of a snow ball surviving in hell.

My reasoning is that for the “E” to survive each member state of the Caribbean Community would have to give up a measure of “policy” space to a supranational regional entity in order for this entity to have any meaningful clout as a true representative of all of the member states of the Caribbean Community. I further conclude that this is unlikely to happen in my lifetime or in my children’s lifetime.

CARICOM States have demonstrated time and time again throughout the history of the Caribbean Community that they are quite capable of agreeing on several regional issues. Yet, when they return to the reality of their domestic environment they do what is politically expedient in the domestic setting in the interest of their political survival. This may be seen as the cause of “Implementation Deficit Disorder” from a regional perspective, even though it can undoubtedly be justified from a domestic viewpoint.

My argument is that no party in power will change this behaviour because it will be seen as putting the political survival of the party in power at risk. I personally do not see why this is such a big deal, since no party is normally given more than three terms, as failure to address some other risks will take them out of power anyhow. So they could have taken the route of the region first and given the pro-CSME protagonists a measure of comfort. The challenge is to shift their thinking from the myopic to the strategic in the best interest of the Caribbean Community. If the Caribbean Community wins we all win!

David Jessop pointed out: “Sometime this year Caribbean Heads of Government will appoint a new Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary General. Their choice will demonstrate how strong or weak an institution they require, and whether they want change”.

The CARICOM Secretariat has for many years positioned itself to receive global geo-political bilateral and multilateral aid on behalf of the Caribbean Community. In the absence of a Government of the Caribbean, the Secretariat has cleverly manoevered the use of these resources to further its own agenda, under the aegis and with the “approval” of the Heads of Government.

How has the region progressed in socio-economic terms? What are the benchmarks? Where is the impact analysis of the use of these resources? Should we regard this crossroad merely as an occasion to appoint a new Secretary General? Should we be putting new wine into old bottles? Should the pre-recession role of CARICOM be the same as the post-recession role?

 With all due respect, what I have heard about prospective candidates for CARICOM Secretary General suggests that we will get more of the same. There will be no change in thinking, even though the one thing that is constant in the international environment is change. Why am I tempted to revert to my cynical best? Why do I feel that I am just contributing a lot of “hot air”? Maybe this is another unexpected manifestation of Global Warming. I hope I am wrong! Are the existing sea level rise predictions and the climate and temperature changes revelations not enough grounds for concern?

Sir Edwin Carrington must be congratulated for his endurance during his stewardship over the last 18 years in very trying circumstances. We now have an opportunity to shape a new vision and at least relieve the new Secretary General of the burden of an arduous legacy.

I feel that this is a natural crossroad in the evolution of CARICOM and I would recommend to Prime Minister Tillman Thomas, the new Chairman of the Heads of CARICOM Governments, that he approaches this challenge from a management perspective. The Heads need to convene a Strategic Visioning Retreat to agree on future direction, as determined by all stakeholders, in which to spend available resources. Then they should develop a Strategic Plan. Then they should choose a Secretary General who can deliver the goods based on the New Dispensation.

Enough of the regional interlude – back to home base! The Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation (BEF) is emerging to give all Barbadians and, by extension, all Caribbean nations a measure of hope. It is expected that the energy of the waves of the positive BEF tsunami will extend beyond the Caribbean geographic domain.

We had an excellent Business Facilitation interactive dialogue session led by Melanie Jones last Wednesday night at the second monthly BEF networking session. The number of persons registering doubled compared with the month before. Do not miss the next session in March. Follow our progress on www.barbadosentrepreneurshipfoundation.org.
 
The BEF has a board meeting on Friday, January 28 at which its 2011 plan will be discussed. A full time Project Manager has been appointed, effective February 1, 2011. 

Give freely and share with others what you have. If you use your abilities to help other people you will be richly blessed.
 
 (Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. – CBET – Columns are archived at www.cbetmodel.org)

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