Heads of Government of CARICOM in St Vincent and the Grenadines at their 25th intersessional meeting
KINGSTOWN, St Vincent -- Taking tough decisions and fulfilling regional obligations were two areas that Caribbean Community (CARICOM) current and past chairs, Dr Ralph Gonsalves and Kamla Persad-Bissessar, identified as essential for solidifying integration and moving the Community forward.
At the opening session of the 25th intersessional meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM in St Vincent and the Grenadines on Monday morning, Gonsalves, the host prime minister and Community chair, and immediate past chair Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar of Trinidad and Tobago, both focused on the strategic direction of the Community and issues that had to be tackled to ensure progress.
Implementation has been identified as a challenge and, on Monday, Gonsalves said that the implementation deficit should be placed squarely where it belonged. Each government, he pointed out, had the obligation to put in place arrangements to facilitate speedy implementation of CARICOM decisions. He explained that while the CARICOM Secretariat was the administrative body of the Community, it did not have the authority to compel the enforcement of decisions.
“To be sure, the delivery of the Secretariat’s administrative and coordination functions ought to be enhanced, but the implementation deficit has to be put squarely -- at the level of national governments,” he reiterated.
He tied implementation and political will to the populace’s “appetite” for much more than was currently being offered.
For Persad-Bissessar, the true test of Community success was the ability to deliver on promises to the populace. She referred to the slow pace of implementation of the CSME that continued to be the benchmark on which CARICOM’s success was judged. It was evident, she said, that in order to get rid of that misconception, the region had to deliver on its promise.
“My fellow heads of government, as I conclude, I put it to this conference that it should never be enough for anyone to say to us that the future of our region is bright and filled with boundless potential.
“To attain that secure future, to build sustainable development and progress, we must be willing to not only do the work that is required, but also take the tough decisions and fulfil our obligations,” the prime minister said.
Following the opening ceremony, the heads of government deliberated on the use of information communication technology (ICT) to advance the region’s agenda for sustainable development. Other key agenda items are improving the Community’s human resource development, the Community’s economic outlook and the reform process.
The issues of reparations and the use of marijuana for medical purposes are among the matters that will be discussed.
Gonsalves said that the subjects discussed had one focus: improvement in quality of life and living of the people of the Community. The deliberations, he said, would not be conducted in abstract but within the context of regional, global and national conditions.