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[Trinidad] PM’s turn to advance regional togetherness

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[Trinidad] PM’s turn to advance regional togetherness

Unread post by bimjim » Tue Jul 12, 2016

http://www.trinidadexpress.com/20160711 ... getherness

[Trinidad] PM’s turn to advance regional togetherness
Jul 11, 2016

Events coincided to result in the integration project’s occupying a higher than usual place on the agenda of regional concerns. The death of former prime minister Patrick Manning occasioned around the region reflections on his career as a champion of regional togetherness in word and deed.

At the Guyana Caricom summit, Prime Minister Keith Rowley heard expressions of sentiment embracing the former T&T leader as one of the region’s very own. The presence of regional leaders at the Manning funeral also reflected lively Caribbean fellowship.

Without worrying how his words might come over, St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves delivered at the Holy Trinity Cathedral heartfelt feelings about his late regional colleague. It will of course take more than the Manning legacy of hope and promise to keep Caricom on course toward the fulfilment of its dedicated mission.

Addressing the state of the regional collective last week, Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart issued pointed critiques of the Caricom decision-making process. From his vantage point around the Caricom high table, Mr Stuart lamented a prevalent slackness, likely not discerned as such by Caribbean people.

“Sometimes,” he said, “long before heads of government meeting ended, some heads would have left the conference. Then there was uncertainty on what the final decisions were.” The Barbadian leader’s plain talk covered the lack of progress toward realisation of the Caricom Single Market and Economy.

Caricom organs established to facilitate advancement toward the CSME goal simply do not function, Mr Stuart noted. Assuming a whistle-blower’s role, he disclosed that the Council of Finance and Planning and the Legal Affairs Committee simply do not meet. In consequence, he warned, “the kind of movement you need on pursuing the goal of a single economy will be impeded”.

Meanwhile, what gains the headlines are stories about failures in giving effect to agreed freedom of movement. Notably, at the borders of Barbados and T&T, cases of Caricom citizens denied entry have “attracted more attention that the thousands who have no problem at all”, Mr Stuart said.

It’s this reality that PM Rowley has undertaken to confront face-to-face with officials and citizens in Jamaica next week.

In T&T, neither popular hostility nor public policy can be identified as operating against Jamaican visitors.

In Jamaica, however, treatment of their nationals by T&T Immigration officers has stirred resentment in public opinion, reaching high levels in government and business.

Dr Rowley will have his work cut out. He will be especially challenged by his own misspeaking which classed some regional travellers as unwanted potential “vagrants” in T&T.

Go brave, Mr PM.

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