Barbados and its CARICOM neighbours are facing their greatest crisis since Independence and are in danger of becoming a group of “failed states”.
And Chairman of the CARICOM Heads of Government, Dr. Kenny Anthony, thinks a “dysfunctional” and outdated regional integration process should shoulder much of the blame for the problem.
The St. Lucia Prime Minister said a major part of the challenge the region faced was that its institutions “have not kept up with the times, this is a reality check that should have hit us, thanks to 2008 and the world financial crisis”.
“We were spending too much time using our integration machinery dealing with our insularities instead of charting an outward response to the looming global realities,” he said.
“Our initial reactions have been to cower … behind national agendas and sovereignty, but the time has come for us to review ourselves and the way we do business if we are to make our existence more affirmed, more congealed, more real.
“I cannot and will not speak the language that CARICOM is all myth and not reality, it may be dysfunctional, but it is real and it is alive. I accept, however, that all is not well.”
Anthony made his feelings known today while addressing Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry members on the topic Regional Integration: Reality Or Myth? when that organisation held a luncheon at Hilton Barbados.
The regional official said the Caribbean had to realise that time was not standing still for it to fix its problems. “Pressed to the wall we tend to disregard this necessity and postpone the inevitable discipline as if time with its penchant for impatience will move at a different pace for us in our sun-drenched world, as if reality can somehow be discounted because we are small and charming and somehow immune from serious mayhem and misfortune,” he stated.
“Make no mistake about it, our region is in the throes of the greatest crisis since Independence, the spectre of evolving into failed states is no longer a subject of imagination.
“How our societies crawl out of this vicious vortex of persistent low growth, crippling debt, huge fiscal deficits and high unemployment is the single most important question facing us at this time. Indeed, if CARICOM wishes to be relevant to the lives of the people of the region then that issue should dominate its deliberations at the next summit,” Anthony added.
He said CARICOM could not afford “to be impotent when societies and economies are at risk, on the brink of collapse”.
“The Caribbean is, and has been for too long, stalled at the crossroads of indecision, stalled for so long that we are in danger of becoming anachronistic, literally out of time and out of step with the rest of the world,” the regional leader noted. (SC)
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