We raise today with deep concern the recent appointment of Dr Edwin Carrington to the post of Plenipotentiary Ambassador to Caricom. We do this not to question the appointment of the former secretary general of Caricom, or indeed the necessity of having someone of his calibre and accomplishments in such a position. What concerns us is the absence of an articulated substantive basis for the functioning of Dr Carrington and what is to be his role and responsibilities in the short and medium term. The position is one which has been made by previous governments. Under the UNC of Basdeo Panday, former foreign minister Kamaluddin Mohammed was slotted in the job, and little was known about the work of the ambassador. In the succeeding PNM government of Patrick Manning, Jerry Narace was given the responsibility.
In the instance of the latter, when he reported to the media he talked about implementation of the Caricom Single Market with a focus on the granting of work permits and a few trade issues. The issue is now raised with regard to Dr Carrington because this country and all of Caricom cannot afford to have such an expert on regional affairs, who has been deeply involved in attempting to bring into existence the Caricom Single Market and Economy, simply settled in a sinecure job. We raise a red flag too because another Caricom appointment, that of Makandal Daaga as ambassador to Caricom on cultural issues, has so far, as anyone in the public knows, provided zero results. It is well-known and acknowledged by many leaders, including Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, that Caricom is a major under-achiever. Put more precisely, the present generation of leaders has failed miserably in the attempts to advance the regional integration movement beyond the base put down by previous generations.
At present the two most important elements of Caricom are adrift somewhere in the Caribbean Sea.
The Single Market has not resulted in an appreciable increase in the free movement of capital and human resources across borders; not the expected monetary union, at minimum the easy convertibility of currencies in member states; neither the harmonisation of fiscal policies and a range of other matters all designed to increase trade among member states as stipulated in the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas. Most recently, the leaders admitted that the Single Economy, which takes integration to a deeper and wider level, cannot be achieved and had to be pushed back to 2015, perhaps another unattainable deadline. The inevitable consequence of such non-achievement of the basic objectives and reasons for aspirations to integrate the economies and societies of the region is that the world is not remaining still and soon enough the objectives of the last decade will lose their relevance.
No one is at the moment more aware of the problems of Caricom and at the same time having a grasp of what needs to be done and the imperatives of solving the problems than Dr Carrington. Positioned differently, perhaps better able to take definitive decisions as stipulated by the government in Port-of-Spain, Dr Carrington may be best able to influence action. Also, his could be a persuasive voice to his own prime minister as to how T&T could quicken and transform Caricom. It would be a tragedy to hire Dr Carrington for the purpose of making it look good rather than a real intention to advance the integration movement. The world has passed us by in the Caribbean; setting the former secretary general to work with a meaningful agenda and the political resources to achieve it is vital.