Caricom Secretary General, Edwin Carrington, who demits office at the end of this month after more than 18 years at the helm of the regional grouping, says that governance remains an area of difficulty for the community.
Addressing the regional media via videoconference on Friday from the CARICOM Secretariat at what was his last news conference, he also singled out the Haiti earthquake as an unparalleled disaster in the region.
“The horrific, catastrophic disaster, that January 12 earthquake in Haiti, has cast a giant shadow over the community over the year 2010. Little has taken place which does not point back to … the need for response to Haiti arising from that devastating January 12 earthquake.”
He noted that this was further compounded by the cholera outbreak in October which has claimed over 2,000 lives in the CARICOM member state. Carrington also mentioned the passage of Hurricane Tomas which ravaged St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Barbados to a lesser extent.
But the problems did not all spring from nature as the CARICOM head pointed out that governance of the Com-munity remains an area of difficulty.
“Inadequate pre-decision making consultations, inadequate post-decision making implementation of decisions; these are matters at the heart of the effectiveness of our Community,” he stated.
However, he said the heads of government are taking steps to remedy the deficiencies which include the revision of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.
“The work has just begun but the Revised Treaty is going to be revised to make it more relevant, more responsive to the changing circumstances of the Community.”
Also in the revision, he said, the CSME will be a central part of that process as well as agriculture with particular concern on food and nutrition security.
There are also several projects he would have liked to see come to fruition before his departure, Carrington said with the CARICOM Com-petition Commission being one of them.
“That structure has been established, it has not yet been full grown in its operations and I think we had a bit of a setback with the director having fallen ill and somewhat earlier than we expected we had to change director. We are now looking for a new director for that important organisation.”
Another is the Caribbean Agriculture Health and Food Safety Agency (CAFSA) which is not yet fully established. The organisation will have responsibility for conducting Pest Risk Assessment in the Community thereby removing the need for each importing country to conduct the assessments for other Caricom countries.
Carrington also believes that the region has not done enough in the area of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and said it is not an area that could be ignored in the development of the Community.
On the plus side he noted that CARICOM’s efforts over the last year to establish links with the international community had been paying dividends with an increasing number of ambassadors being accredited to the Community.
These include ambassadors from Australia, Finland, Canada, Chile, Germany and the United Kingdom.
Meanwhile, the Secretary General intimated that he will still be around after stepping down at the end of the year but added that he has no idea what he will be doing.
Also demitting office at the end of the year is Assistant Secretary General Dr. Edward Greene who has responsibility for Human and Social Development.