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Gonsalves: CARICOM integrating institutions, rather than people


A central failure of CARICOM is that its focus has been on integrating state institutions and trading regimes, and not on the people themselves.{{more}}

And although the state institutions and trading arrangements touch and concern people, the people-centred matter of the freedom of movement of people, including hassle-free travel, remains “substantially elusive”.

Jamaicans, Guyanese, St Lucians, Grenadians, Dominicans and Vincentians, in particular, remain largely dissatisfied.

This is the view of Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines Dr Ralph Gonsalves, who recently drew his concerns to the attention of CARICOM Secretary General Irwin LaRocque.

Gonsalves, in a letter, told LaRocque that he is not minimizing the attendant challenges, but he is sure much better can be done, “if we truly commit to its resolution, in practical terms, being especially cognizant of our obligations in international law towards migrants, and the letter and spirit of CARICOM.”

In his letter, Gonsalves also said that the OECS member-countries of CARICOM also have some specific grouses including “the limited capitalization of the CARICOM Development Fund; the veritable collapse of the discretionary CARICOM Petroleum Facility out of Trinidad and Tobago; the decline of the manufacturing sector in the OECS, occasioned, in part, by unfair competition from at least one other CARICOM exporting country, and the absence of a proper enforcement of the relevant CARICOM rules regarding protection of certain manufactured commodities from the OECS.”

He also mentioned what he called unresolved challenges in air transport, including “unfair competitive subsidies granted to one airline,” and what he called Trinidad and Tobago’s “illegitimate monopoly”, through the Caribbean Air Navigation and Advisory Services (CANAS) of all the resources derived from the Piarco Flight Information Region (PFIR).

The PFIR is responsible for the provision of Air Traffic services within the airspace above Trinidad and Tobago and the Eastern Caribbean, ranging from mid-Caribbean to mid-Atlantic, and from Antigua in the north to Trinidad in the south.

The Piarco FIR is considered the central nervous system of air traffic control in the Eastern Caribbean.

“Some of these complaints are more easily addressed than others, but they are all evidently soluble, if we are committed on an on-going basis, to solving them.

“If not satisfactorily alleviated, these problems or limitations would fester further; in time they are likely to become septic and debilitating. Meanwhile, there is an urgency for the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas to be amended to make special provision for the reality of the economic union in the OECS and the Revised Treaty of Basseterre.”