JIS News

Chairman of CARICOM and Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Hon. Bruce Golding, has challenged leaders to make the Conference of Heads of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), now underway in Montego Bay, the turning point for the region.
He was speaking at the opening ceremony for the 31st Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads, at the Half Moon Hotel on Sunday evening (July 4).
Mr. Golding said that there was disillusionment among some Caribbean nationals who felt CARICOM had not fulfilled its mandate and were calling for leaders of the integration movement to “shut up or put up.”
“There is no shortage of cynics who watch as we gather in Montego Bay and sigh and say ‘there they go again’,” he stated However, he said many of these persons had not taken into consideration the progress that had been made by the regional group, and that the impatience expressed was “oblivious of the need to make sure we get it right, to make sure that it will endure.”
His declarations were similar to those made by outgoing Chairman of CARICOM and Prime Minister of Dominica, Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit, who said that the region had achieved as much as it realistically could under the current circumstances.
“No one can convince me that our region is any less endowed today than it was 15 years ago,” he added. Mr. Skerrit also cautioned his colleagues against pressures to meet timeframes and deadlines, saying that haste could result in more problems for the region.
“The fact is at this time it is proving very difficult to advance the processes of free movement and the single economy as originally conceptualised in all territories.colleague Heads, I believe the people we represent are quite capable of understanding that some member states are in survival mode and as a result certain initiatives which CARICOM and its related organs began pursuing multilaterally have become excessively demanding and may have to be revisited in keeping with global trends,” he said.
However, he said Heads should work together to resolve the issues that were within their power to fix.
Mr. Golding noted also that there were several issues which Heads must work on with dispatch, such as addressing CARICOM’s governance structure, the crime and economic problems, and building understanding and trust among CARICOM nationals.
“As leaders who are held accountable by our separate constituencies, we have the sometimes difficult task of ensuring and convincing our people of the consistency between community goals and national aspirations,” he said.
The opening ceremony has set the tone for the topics to be discussed in the week of meetings ranging from efforts to restore Haiti following the January 12 earthquake; regional integration and trade; the global economic crisis; and crime and security.