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Sir James on Economic Union

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He may be retired, but former Prime Minister Sir James Mitchell’s name is often still thrown into the political mix.

It was no different last week in Parliament when Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves debated the motion on whether or not St. Vincent and the Grenadines should pursue the economic union initiative with Trinidad and Tobago, St Lucia and Grenada.{{more}}

Dr Gonsalves referred to a speech that was made recently by Sir James at the University of the West Indies Open Campus in Dominica in honour of Dame Mary Eugenia Charles.

“I support any call for economic union leading to political union,” Mitchell said, referring to what has been called the Manning initiative, where the four countries have declared their intention to constitute an economic union by 2011 and an appropriate political union by 2013.

Mitchell lamented that several studies have been done in the past and efforts have been made to foster regional integration. He said that what is needed now is the political will to get it done.

“I urge all opposition political parties to support the creation of a central political union and not stand in the way for selfish personal reasons,” Sir James also said in the speech.

Dr Gonsalves, commenting on the reservations about the initiative expressed by Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace, said that Eustace was only objecting to “assert his political manhood,” by showing that he could oppose an idea that his political party’s founder Sir James endorses.

Eustace, for his part, made it clear during his contribution to the debate that he did not object to regional integration, but he felt that the new initiative would serve as a distraction to the work already being done by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Organization of the Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

SEARCHLIGHT contacted Sir James who said that it was important that the political will is found to get past the talk and see regional integration become a reality.

“We have had all the studies and studies of studies over the years dealing with economic union. What we need is the political will for the creation of a new state,’ he had further said in the Dominica speech.

He said, however, that it was important that whatever the initiative is, it is done properly.

Sir James said that a referendum law is needed across the region.

He further suggested that a team should be put in place to establish the principles for going forward.

Once that is done, he said, it will be up to the individual member countries, through their parliaments and national referendums, to decide whether or not they will come on board.(KJ)