Integrated approach to development needed To the Editor
Guyana Chronicle
November 13, 2001

The single instance of wide consultation with the people of the English speaking Caribbean on matters relevant to the Caribbean Community was undertaken by Sir Shridath Ramphal, who chaired the West Indian Commission a decade ago. Caribbean citizens resident in all member countries and the members of the diaspora in the United Kingdom, United States and Canada were consulted in an extensive process that led to the publication of a well documented, voluminous report of observations and recommendations.

Unfortunately, many of the recommendations remain unimplemented. Because the work of the Commission was so well publicized, there was heightened expectation that its report would lead to a new dispensation and the creation of a more vibrant integration spirit in the region.

Regrettably, the lack of urgency in implementing the recommendations has led to a feeling of cynicism about Caricom matters among Caribbean people. This situation is most unfortunate, because an integrated approach to development is a path that is as worthy of pursuit now as it ever was.

There is an adage that an opportunity lost cannot be regained. My plea therefore, is not for the resurrection of the Commission's report, but for our political leaders to find another mechanism to re-invigorate the integration process. If this is done and if a way is found to embrace the people's representatives more fully in the process, vital initiatives such as the establishment of the Caribbean Court of Justice and the Single Market and Economy will have a much easier passage to full implementation.

Perhaps, the way to achieve this is to institutionalize the Caribbean Assembly of Parliamentarians. That body, which should meet twice per year, would comprise national delegations of both government and opposition parliamentarians in the proportion of their popular vote in the most recent general elections. The Caribbean Assembly of Parliamentarians would debate and adopt resolutions on issues of importance. The resolutions in turn would inform the Caricom Heads, but they would be non-binding on them.

Many feel that the establishment of the Assembly of Parliamentarians will amount to the creation of another "talk-shop" in Caricom. I take another view, for not only will it involve a cross-section of the people's elected representatives on issues of political, social and economic integration, but it will give status to the views supporters of non-government parties and provide a much needed bridge to national Parliaments. Additionally, debate on issues that are not central to regional integration, such as the state of West Indies cricket, which now tend to crowd agendas of Heads of Government conferences, can be delegated to the Assembly of Parliamentarians. This would allow Heads to concentrate their attention on the most pressing issues.

The Japanese government has pledged money to the building of the new Caricom secretariat in Georgetown. Sittings of the Assembly of Parliamentarians should take place in the conference centre of the complex which can be the purpose, for it was built with this in mind. This feature will establish the linkage between the Caricom administration and the Assembly of Parliamentarians.
Wilton A. Angoy
St. Michael