The top European Union spokesman in Bridgetown and the Eastern Caribbean is cautioning Barbados and other regional states that if they expect to receive any funding, they must ensure transparency and accountability in their operations.
The warning, which was issued by the Delegate of the European Union (EU) Mikael Barfod, came during the launch of the Bridgetown-based Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE) at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
Barfod told the gathering of local and regional dignitaries, including Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, that while the EU had already allocated one billion Euros to Caribbean energy projects for 2014 to 2020, the CCREEE must be reminded of the need for proper governance in order to attract specific assistance from the Europeans.
“If development partner support is to be attracted to the Centre, and or its projects, they need to be assured that transparency, accountability and a relationship of mutual respect and trust exists throughout all processes,” the EU ambassador said.
Barfod is therefore proposing a semi-autonomous and flexible management structure with a limited board.
He is of the view that it could have members allocated for limited time and with adequate representation from the private sector and civil society.
“We believe it is prudent that the Centre’s leadership, both in the interim and long-term, seeks to be as strategic as possible in establishing critical alliances.
“The need for a lean, mean Centre, which strategically fits into the existing Caribbean energy architecture, cannot be overly emphasized,” Barfod stressed.
The EU ambassador was at pains to point out that no one in the region wants, or can afford, a centre, which, within the next five years, becomes another financial burden on the heavily indebted countries of the Caribbean.
“Hence, the advice from day one is to keep the Centre lean and focused.
“We see the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy developing into a regional coordination and support entity that considers specific characteristics of individual territories and provides solutions that maximize individual and regional strengths while reducing individual and collective vulnerabilities.”
He noted that one of the barriers that need to be removed to allow the region to take full advantage of the renewable energy and energy efficiency potential, was the lack of Caribbean technical coordination and implementation.
“The Centre offers an opportunity to deal with this technical barrier. However, it should not be believed that the Centre could do this on its own steam. The development of energy specialists which cover the full spectrum of renewable energy and energy efficiency issues, need to be nurtured – at all levels,” contended Ambassador Barfod.