Time for action is now! PM Douglas
(CARICOM Secretarait, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) Outgoing CARICOM chairman, Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis, the Hon Dr Denzil Douglas, on Thursday morning, made a strong call for the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community to take action now!
The St Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister was addressing CARICOM Heads of Government and their delegations at the Opening Ceremony of their 23rd half-yearly Meeting, in Paramaribo, Suriname.
In invoking the spirit and letter of the 1992 Report of the Ramphal-led West Indian Commission, Dr Douglas noted that two decades after that seminal Report, the Community was getting ready to discuss another report that contained a similar call for radical action now on the part of Heads of Government.
Prime Minister Douglas was referring to the recent Landell Mills Review (2012), which contained recommendations on turning around the Community and its administrative body, the CARICOM Secretariat. The review was commissioned by CARICOM Heads of Government amidst calls for a more efficient and effective governance mechanism for greater efficiency and increased effectiveness of the Community.
“Let me repeat, the ‘TIME FOR ACTION IS NOW’ and requires a demonstration of political will to engender real and sustainable transformation,” Dr Douglas asserted.
Dr Douglas reminded his colleague Heads of Government that, notwithstanding public criticisms, the Community was still on the edge of some very difficult and serious times, largely imposed by global uncertainties and challenges.
He therefore encouraged the Conference to remain optimistic and focussed – on its goals for efficiency and a strengthened governance mechanism. He warned however that the Conference could persist in dissonance and platitudes, but must remain steadfast in its resolve “to move beyond the enunciation of our priority … to see the realization of our vision.” This, he added, required “all hands on deck, if the ship of this Community is to sail safely through the turbulent waters.”
In responding to the call for relevance, Prime Minister Douglas acknowledged that CARICOM must continue to adapt and re-invent itself in terms of how it functions, but NEVER in terms of its core values, purpose, and principles.
He added that in the context of global realities that had created hardship for the peoples of the Caribbean, the Conference must provide greater clarity and form regarding the ideals of integration in order to inspire hope and confidence for the people of the region who he stated were questioning the CARICOM’s resolve to truly transform their lives.
He made a further call for CARICOM to position itself to forge strategic alliances in order to harness much needed resources that could help to move the Community forward; but cautioned against any alliance that threatened to subsume CARICOM into other groupings.
“We have been able to enter any chamber and assume any role without anyone ever raising even the slightest question about our individual nation’s, or indeed our Region’s honour. This is of incalculable value. Let us strive, with all our might, to keep it this way” the St Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister cautioned
More importantly, he challenged his colleague Heads to commit themselves to remaining “alert, vigilant, and resistant to anything, within the region, that might taint this reputation that our forebears worked so very hard to build, and in a spirit of utmost faith and trust, bequeathed to us.”