By Shamkoe Pilé
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (BGIS) -- CARICOM is not on pause, as a matter of fact, it has been prioritising and re-strategising in an effort to help this region achieve its goals faster, said Barbados Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean, as she met with director of the Economic Commission of Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Diane Quarless, during a courtesy call at the Ministry's headquarters last Friday.
Stressing that the regional body was more than a talk shop, McClean said: "Implementation is important. We have outstanding deliverables, so instead of always meeting to talk [about them], we looked at what was on the table, outlined our priorities and set deadlines so that we can deliver."
She further added that people often expressed frustration with the process because of its bureaucratic nature and lengthy consultative process.
In turn, the ECLAC director said she was happy to receive reassurances that CARICOM was alive and active. She urged the regional body to thoroughly examine the possible implications of any funding or grant proposals from extra-regional agencies.
Pointing out that sometimes the region was classified as middle to high income, and, in other instances, as a single country, she stressed that the Caribbean was already suffering from large public debt.
Quarless suggested that data collecting was important to demonstrate to internal and external sources the vulnerability of CARICOM states, despite the region's development.
McClean acknowledged that Barbados and the Caribbean needed to build a culture of appreciation for data collection and statistics. She further noted that the findings from data collection could help each country, or the region as a whole, to understand and learn from various situations.
"While we do not want to be cut off from concessionary funding, we also need to demonstrate our situation with data and comparative figures," the foreign affairs minister said, adding this would give international agencies a better understanding of the region's reality.