Caricom Secretary-General Edwin Carrington says the public service is critical to advancing regional integration arrangements, in his address at the Caribbean Centre of Development Administration (CARICAD) meeting last Wednesday.
“The public service must be made aware of their integral role in advancing the objectives and implementing the decisions of the Caribbean Community,” Carrington told the 29th CARICAD Board meeting held at the Caricom Secretariat. In a press release Caricom said CARICAD focuses through various interventions, on upgrading and strengthening the managerial capability of the public sector for the more effective implementation of public policy across the Region.
The Secretary-General acknowledged CARICAD’s role in boosting the efficiency of the public sector by employing technology, and in connecting with the Region. He also told the meeting that the other “key core” factor of the regional integration arrangements was its human resources. Carrington said the public service’s role in advancing the integration process is critical as public officers are at the forefront and in a position to make an impact. “Unless there is a commitment to the idea of regional integration by the people on the frontline, no amount of technology will move the process forward,” he said.
It was against this backdrop, that Carrington said that the Conference of Heads of Government at its 30th Regular Meeting had agreed on the importance of training and sensitising public officers, particularly immigration officers. He said such training is critical as the Community’s decisions “lies essentially in the province of Member States.”
“The CARICOM Secretariat and the regional institutions have their role in facilitating and co-ordinating, cannot implement at the national level; whether it is in agriculture, free movement, contingent rights, security and investment” Carrington said. He also said that there must be an understanding and acceptance that national goals are not distinct from the Community’s goals, and that there was no contemplation of replacing the national public services with a gigantic regional public service. “The objective is for a seamless space that will strengthen the parts to ensure a solid whole,” Carrington said.
To achieve this goal, he posited that national public services across the Community should all be operating on the same basic principles in the conduct of their duties. In this regard, Carrington said the work of CARICAD became more significant in establishing coherence and harmonisation among its stakeholders to redound to the benefit of the integration process. “Our quest for a viable, prosperous, secure and sustainable Community for all requires all hands on deck,” the Secretary-General said.
According to the Secretariat, since its establishment in 1980, CARICAD has been working to advance public sector reform, particularly in providing technical assistance to support member governments in their quest to boost efficiency through initiatives which seek to transform and modernize the public sector. In this regard, one of the organisation’s key tasks has been promoting an E-government project that aims to open communication between people and their government, and between governments of the Region through the use of technology.
CARICAD has a current membership of 14 countries: Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, the British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago. Anguilla and the Turks and Caicos Islands are associate members.