HEADS of government are now making a concerted effort to improve the effectiveness of CARICOM. That was the general message delivered by Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, as he took time out to field some questions this week on CARICOM’s 29th Inter-Sessional Meeting, which took place at the Marriott Hotel in Haiti towards the end of last month.
The Prime Minister also spoke about CARICOM’s efforts to address crime and security around the region, as well as the impact of “climate change.
When asked about the meeting, Allen Chastanet said that he felt that it “was…very fruitful…” and that he “thought that the Prime Ministers came very serious…”
He went on to stress that he “felt a greater level of focus” from his counterparts and that he thought that they “wanted to be reassured that not only were (they) making decisions but timelines were given for implementation.”
He credited this “increased level of focus” to an increased level of accountability and an increasing sense of urgency among his counterparts, stating; “I also believe that people want to hold (us) much more accountable for the decisions we are making and I think that there is a greater sense of urgency that’s building up.”
Remarking upon the lengthy time it takes for decisions made at the CARICOM level to come to fruition, the Prime Minister stated that; “I think that we’re all frustrated as to how long it traditionally takes to get things done on decisions that are made at CARICOM.”
When asked to point out specific issues that the CARICOM heads agreed upon, the Prime Minister stated that “clearly there was substantial consensus on the way forward with regards to climate change…(and) in the area of security…” before pointing out that there was also “a presentation on a regional marketing campaign.”
Regarding talks on “climate change” he said that he “felt that (there) was a lot of solidarity behind that…”
He went on to warn that “the next hurricane season is less than six months away. We’ve seen the devastation; the devastating effect it’s had on several destinations in our region”; stating that that’s why “all of us are gonna have to change…”
His words echoed those of the President of Haiti and acting President of CARICOM JovenelMoise, who according to a report by the St. Kitts and Nevis Observer said: “It is an inescapable fact that the Caribbean region is placed in the path of the cyclones and hurricanes, and that one of the consequences of climate change is the growing intensity of weather phenomena…” (Quoted from an article entitled: CARICOM chair says confront climate change challenges with unified commitment)
Elaborating on the crime and security issues currently plaguing the region, he said that “when you look at the crime…per capita…(we) were all very high.” He went on to say that “given our dependence on tourism (and) given the promise that we’ve made (regarding) quality of life to our citizens; this is something in which we have to collectively participate…” before reemphasizing what he saw was “a greater sense of urgency on the Prime Ministers’ part” in regards to “this (crime) situation.”
As the official website for the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago Government reports in an article entitled: “CARICOM to tackle crime and violence in the region”, “The rise in crime and violence was…addressed (at the CARICOM Meeting) and it was agreed that IMPACS will create an intra-regional task force comprising experts, to examine and suggest innovative regional solutions to combat the (crime) issue regionally.”
The threat of terrorism was also brought up in the Meeting. The aforementioned article reported that “All Member States are expected to (if they haven’t already) enact legislation related to the Advance Cargo Information System (ACIS) and Advanced Passenger Information System (APIS) to assist counter-terrorism efforts, among other security matters, and to share information on crime and violence among Member States in a more consistent manner.”
When speaking further about the regional marketing campaign he had mentioned earlier, the Prime Minister pointed out that he “got to make the presentation” on it. Despite stating that he didn’t know “what the final outcome of (the) decision” on the aforementioned marketing campaign was, he made it clear that “when I left I felt fairly positive that we’re gonna hopefully find a way to put a funding mechanism in place to support that campaign.”
The next meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government is scheduled for July 4 – 6.