PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC – The Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce (TTCIC) Tuesday called on regional governments to fill the position of Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping.
In a statement read out on its radio programme here, the private sector group said that it is more than six months since Trinidad and Tobago national, Sir Edwin Carrington stepped down as secretary general and yet regional leaders are unable to name a replacement.
Sir Edwin, 72, who served in the post for 18 years, has since been appointed Trinidad and Tobago’s Ambassador to CARICOM.
According to the TTCIC, with CARICOM and the Dominican Republic signing the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with Europe under the aegis of the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM), it is vital that a secretary general be appointed as the region goes through the process of implementing the accord.
“Initially the region wanted to have the EPA implementation unit housed in the CARICOM Secretariat but this will not take place. The unit will now be headed by a director general whose is suppose to report to the Secretary General of CARICOM.
“The region needs a Secretary General to oversee and coordinate this important regional process,” the private sector group said, noting that within recent times there have been several public incidents that have caused the region to question the value and relevance of CARICOM.
The private sector said all these issues “touch upon governance and the inability of the Secretariat to push member states to implement the commitments undertaken subsequent to the signing of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (that governs the regional grouping)”.
It said the most “known example of this is, six years after member states were supposed to implement the single market fundamental components like the freedom of movement have not been put into action.
“This despite repeated mandates to the heads of government to move expeditiously to implement the outstanding commitments,” the TTCIC said.
The private sector group said that one of critical roles of the Secretary General mandated under the treaty is to monitor and report on the implementation of Community decisions.
It said ht among the functions of the Secretary General is to “identify and mobilize as required external resources to implement decisions at the regional level.
“The region cannot continue to have these discussions without the guidance of a secretary general. Donors fund many of the projects in CARICOM and support the functioning of the Secretariat itself. The absence of a secretary general erodes the confidence of the donor community in the CARICOM Secretariat as a secured place to invest money.
‘This must be seen in the context of other competing regions and institutions vying for resources,” the private sector said, insisting that the regional leaders must act quickly and appoint a successor to Sir Edwin.
CARICOM leaders at their two-day retreat in Guyana last month “agreed that the persons short-listed for the position would be subjected to further processes, with a view to taking a final decision by July 2011”.
CARICOM leaders meet for their annual summit in St. Kitts from July1-4.
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