CARICOM Heads to Deliberate on a Governance Structure


CARICOM has agreed to aggressively pursue a proposal to establish a council of permanent representatives, similar to the Organization of American States (OAS).
A committee of Heads of Government is to hold a special meeting in September to explore this route, in particular, as well as others, which have been put on the table regarding the issue of proper governance within the regional integration machinery.
Chairman of CARICOM and Prime Minister, of Jamaica, the Hon. Bruce Golding, informed that based on these deliberations, a “firm proposal” would be taken to the next inter-sessional meeting of Heads in Grenada, early 2011.
Mr. Golding was addressing a closing press conference on the final day of the 31st Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM at the Rose Hall Resort and Spa in Montego Bay, St. James.
The Committee comprises: Prime Minister Golding; Prime Minister of Dominica, Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit; Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas; Prime Minister of Grenada, Hon. Tillman Thomas; Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Hon. Kamla Persad-Bissessar; Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Hon. Ralph Gonsalves; and President of Guyana, His Excellency Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo.
Mr. Golding said CARICOM’s Community Council had come to the decision in its deliberations, after several proposals were put forward to address the dissatisfaction being voiced among member states, about governance and the pace at which issues are resolved, programmes implemented, and the ultimate achievement of regional goals.
Mr. Golding pointed to another proposal, which would give a group of commissioners executive powers that would almost automatically translate into domestic legislation.
“That has never been agreed upon because there are serious difficulties in proceeding on that basis.the domestic political structures cannot respond with that kind of automaticity. We are a community of 14 sovereign states, plus Montserrat, and it is not going to be possible without an extended and extensive political rearrangement within each of those member states,” he explained.
In addition, the Prime Minister said, it must be noted that each country had its political “ebb and flow”, which would affect this type of “automatic” application. “Whatever arrangements we put in place must be such that will ensure the endurance of these arrangements, and that there is continuity in the work of CARICOM, and we must be somewhat cautious about putting in place systems that could be significantly altered whenever there is a change of administration in a particular country,” he stated.
Mr. Golding assured that “We have committed ourselves to solving that (governance) problem.and solving it fast”, acknowledging that, “Once the Heads conclude the meeting and they depart and go back to providing leadership and governing their respective countries, there is need for continuity and follow-up.there is need for coordination to ensure that those decisions are implemented”.
The Prime Minister noted also, that the Secretariat has come under harsh and unfair criticisms over the governance issue, but that it “cannot implement decisions that have to be reflected in domestic action.the Secretariat in Guyana cannot call Jamaica, Barbados or Trinidad and give instructions (on) what needs to be done.there needs therefore to be a mechanism that ensures that working in coordination with the Secretariat, these decisions are followed”.
He said a final decision had not been taken on a solution at the 31st conference of Heads, because the proposed solution has to be examined in context, to ensure that if it can work, it is sufficiently structured and defined to address the weaknesses that have been identified.
Meanwhile, a review of the Secretariat is to be undertaken, to ensure that it is appropriately structured and resourced, to be able to deliver on its mandate as the administrative arm of the Community. “We have to view that in the context of the changes that have taken place in the region, and external to the region,” Mr. Golding said.

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