Former Chairman of the West Indian Commission, Sir Shridath Ramphal, has charged that 24 years after submitting his recommendations on the establishment of a Single Market and Economy in the region, nothing decisive has happened.
Sir Shridath levelled this charge at regional governments earlier this week while speaking at Caribbean Exporters’ Colloquim at the Hilton Barbados Resort. He noted that the governments of the region had boldly stated that they were “determined to work towards the establishment in the shortest possible time of a single market and economy for the Caribbean Community”.
He told his audience: “It will soon be 24 years since that assertion at Grand Anse in 1989. West Indian technicians took their leaders to the brink of its implementation with the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, but there was no action, no political action, no political will to act.
“In all the years, over two decades, nothing decisive has happened to fulfil that dream of Grand Anse.”
The former secretary general of the Commonwealth further stated that the Grand Anse Summit of 1989 had done something more concrete than spelling out its Charter of Dreams, but passed a resolution on Preparing the People of the West Indies for the 21st Century.
Sir Shridath recalled that the commission was given two years in which to carry out its investigations, adding that their consultations with the people of the region ranked among the most stimulating and rewarding experiences of their lives.
He explained that the members of the commission tried in their report to convey the flavour of the “groundings” with fellow West Indians, noting that the commissioners felt that the investigations should not run out of steam.
Sir Shridath recalled that the Moyne Commission’s report 50 years before had led to many changes, but the people of the region now faced a time of threat to those achievements.
He explained that new economic problems like shortages of foreign exchange had arisen; there were deep anxieties about the quality of governance now and disaffection with the entire political process.
In addition to these concerns, he noted, there was the emerging menace of the drug problem.
Then the regional diplomat explained that when CARICOM leaders accepted the interim proposals to ease up on the “hassle” of travel in the region and to create a single line at airports for residents and CARICOM nationals, the commissioners felt that something had begun to happen in the region.
Additionally, the commissioners felt that something had begun to happen when the leaders accepted that graduates of the University of the West Indies and other skilled workers would be allowed to work in any country of the region.
However, drew attention to the assessment last year by Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines that CARICOM was marking time, while former Prime Minister of Barbados, Owen Arthur, had warned that without CARICOM, the region could become a “failed region”. (NC)