Outgoing Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary-General, Irwin LaRocque is suggesting that “another mechanism” be utilized in getting member countries to greater strengthen their existing cooperation and collaboration for the future development of the region.
“One of the things I have noticed that we can only move as fast as the slowest member state and that slows us down quite a bit. So I think if we had another mechanism going forward we could achieve a lot more,” said LaRocque as he appeared on a television program hosted by Dominican Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit on Sunday night.
“We have achieved a lot. Don’t get me wrong. I am not trying to minimize that but I think there could be greater achievements if we were all working in concert,” said LaRocque, who leaves office next month after 11 years as the region’s top public servant at the Guyana-based CARICOM Secretariat.
“I think we have before us now an opportunity, the decisions the heads have taken that we will go with the coalition of the willing. Some are calling it the coalition of the willing, some are calling it enhanced cooperation. But those who are ready to go forward, let us go forward with it, leave the door open for others to come along,” LaRocque said as he commented on the progress being made under the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
The CSME allows for the free movement of goods, skills, labour and services across most of th15 member regional integration grouping and LaRocque said it was important for the Caribbean to make progress in that regard.
“There are areas I think could have gone a little much further, I have to admit that….but we have had some achievements there. We have gone from five categories of skills to 10, I wish there were lots more,” LaRocque said, noting that “a major part of the market has been introduced by public procurement.
The CARICOM Secretary-General said that the Caribbean population will judge the integration movement on the ability for people to be able to move around freely.
“The people of the Caribbean judge us on the ability to move around. On the ability to be able to ply their trade with their service providers, ability to get their goods into the markets of other member states, on the ability to travel within the region hassle free.
LaRocque also recalled informing the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), one of the highest decision making bodies within CARICOM, at their meeting last week, that when the reviews of the Common External Tariff (CET) and Rules of Origin were being undertaken several years ago, Dominica had appointed an internal committee which he headed on the matter.
“We had to report not only to the Minister, to the Cabinet ever so often on the progress or lack of progress being made. I get a sense that sometimes these things are not happening so that sometimes Prime Ministers are not even properly briefed on what is going on.
“I think…the same way I am asking for accountability in the Secretariat, I think our officials have to be more accountable and recognize that we can move forward. It is to the benefit of our people,” LaRocque told the program on which he also looked back on his years in office.