Political will key for regional integration
President David Granger
President David Granger

— President David Granger

By Svetlana Marshall in Jamaica
PRESIDENT David Granger said there is nothing wrong with the institutions established under the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) but what is clearly needed, is the political will by the Heads of Government to better implement the decisions of the community.

“The decisions that we took are correct, the rules and procedures that we have established over the last 45 years are correct, particularly over the last 19 years or so that the CSME (was established)… (but) it is a question of bureaucratic will to implement those decisions,” President Granger told Guyana Chronicle at the Montego Bay Convention Centre on Thursday shortly before attending the 1st Plenary Session of the 39th Regular Meeting of the Conference of the Heads of Government.

As he proceeded to the meeting which was expected to address largely the implementation deficit of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), the President said a holistic approach is needed to tackle integration in the region.
President Granger, who is CARICOM’s lead person on Agriculture, Agricultural Diversification and Food Security, though not speaking to Guyana’s inability to transship honey exports through Trinidad and Tobago, maintained that the problem lies with the lack of implementations in keeping with the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.

“I don’t believe that anything is wrong with those decisions, and I don’t want to put particular commodities under the microscope whether it is honey or nutmeg or bananas but I am very disturbed that after such a long time the Caribbean is not producing much more of the food that it consumes on a daily basis, honey is one of them yes, but there are other products, one other country might be trying to export water, and we find that the water is blocked, another might be trying to export stock feed but there is no fault in the CARICOM structure, there is no fault in the rules, I think there is a fault in the implementation,” President Granger.

Trinidad has reportedly given CARICOM’s Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) a commitment that it will enact the required legislation to facilitate the trade of honey but for now that is still pending.
The situation, he said is further compounded by the region’s inability to effectively utilise its resources.

“So in terms of agriculture, production and food security, in terms of environment, in terms of eco-tourism, in terms of marketing, I believe that the Caribbean has under exploited its resources,” he said while underscoring the need for the adoption of a fresh approach under the CSME in the area of agriculture – spanning from production to marketing to distribution.

The same, President Granger said, can be applied with respect to disaster management and resilience or in tackling any of the issues facing the region.
“Many of these mechanisms exist in terms of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), in terms of CXC in terms of crime but we don’t seem to be squeezing enough juice in terms of the assets which we have already deployed. CARICOM is 45 years old and the institutions are there but for some reason or the other there needs to be a greater will on the part of bureaucracies to make greater use of these assets,” the President said.

While there are predictions of gloom as the Heads of Government meet, President Granger said he remains optimistic that if the right decisions are made, and their strong commitments are made, greater progress can be achieved at the level of the CSME.

During the opening ceremony of the 39th Regular Meeting of the CARICOM Heads of Government Conference, Chairman of CARICOM and Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley and President of Haiti Jovenel Moise were among the regional leaders who called for the full implementation of the CSME.

President Moise said the member states must redouble their efforts in addressing the stumbling blocks stalling the effective roll out of the Single Market and Economic
“We are convinced that the implementation of this strategy will enable us to strengthen our integration into world trade and play a greater role in the international context.

The increase in intra-CARICOM trade and the diversification of products exported by the region will have a positive impact on our trade balance and our capacity to ensure sustainable development in our countries,” he told his regional counterparts.

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