Advancing Regional Goals
Guyana Chronicle
January 5, 2003

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EFFORTS TO stabilise and transform Caribbean economies, both in the short and long term, would be expected to remain on the front-burner of governments of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and be pursued with much more vigour in 2003.

Hopefully, the region's private sector would also become more pro-active in an enlightened partnership approach to meet the challenges within the framework of the work plan that emerged from the deliberations of the special CARICOM Summit in Castries, St. Lucia last August.

The Castries Summit was mandated by the July 2002 Heads of Government Conference in Guyana to address proposals for the creation of a regional Economic Stabilisation Programme that includes a Stabilisation Fund.

Outside of an emergency aid package discussed for Dominica, which experienced its worst financial problem in many years in 2002, the Heads of Government were to produce the “Framework for Stabilising and Transforming Caribbean Economies" programme that, once implemented, should prove a very significant regional initiative.

The short-term dimension of the stabilisation programme calls for the creation of a special fund with a potential ceiling of some US$200 million with a technical review team assessing international and regional resources available to CARICOM countries.

As outlined in the 'Framework Plan', the most fundamental long-term issue confronting CARICOM states is that of "restructuring and diversifying production". Consequently, the special Castries Summit decided on a range of proposals, including fiscal and institutional reforms and a mechanism for implementation and monitoring.

Since he has been mandated with special responsibility to oversee the implementation of the stabilisation and transformation programme, Prime Minister Owen Arthur of Barbados should be in a position to provide next month's Inter-Sessional Meeting of CARICOM leaders with, hopefully, a promising progress report.

Not only should priority be given to a review of the 'Framework Plan' that emerged from the Castries Summit in shaping the agenda for next month's meeting of CARICOM leaders in Port-of-Spain.

The region's private sector should be made to feel sufficiently challenged by the governments to respond with a vision and level of commitment that may have been lacking at the time of the initiative in 1990s to establish a Regional Investment Fund to boost economic development.

It is also essential that some specific details be provided on the mandate given to the Caribbean Development Bank to raise some US$100 million to operationalise the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

We expect that the President of the CDB, Dr. Compton Bourne, should be in a position by the time of the Port-of-Spain Inter-Sessional to give a more promising picture than when he received the formal mandate at the Georgetown CARICOM Summit last July.

It is not the lack of vision of the Community leaders that often comes in for well meaning criticisms but the extent of their commitment to implement decisions taken.

Let's hope that in 2003 they will give cause for more optimism by the attitudes they reflect in the implementation process of major regional initiatives.

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