… President reaffirms commitment to Caricom
By Devina Samaroo
Deliberations within Guyana of an exit from the Caribbean Community (Caricom) following the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union (EU) is completely out of the question. This is according to Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge, who made it pellucid as he reaffirmed the country’s commitment to the regional institution.
The decision by Great Britain to leave the EU has sparked discussions within Jamaica of whether the country should leave Caricom, owing to the slothfulness of implementation of initiatives to boost the regional international movement.
Such concerns transcended to the local arena where commentators debated the notion of whether Guyana would be better off outside of CARICOM, a body which has proven to be incapable of moving beyond its developmental deadlocks.
However, during an interview with Guyana Times, the Foreign Affairs Minister argued that there are no grave circumstances that have occurred which would warrant the question of Guyana leaving Caricom.
“We are committed to Caricom. We have always been committed to Caricom,” he emphasised, noting that Guyana, after all, is one of the community’s four founding members.
President David Granger also made it clear that Guyana needs Caricom in order to push its developmental agenda.
“Caricom is very important to us, strategically, economically and socially,” the Head of State expressed on his weekly television programme ‘The Public Interest’ which aired on Friday.
“At present, I would say that there has been a lot of development and a lot of progress in terms of functional cooperation; health, education, security and so on… what I think has been subject to some criticisms is the progress on trade and other economic relations but I would say that Caricom is useful and Guyana cannot do without Caricom and we are looking for the enhancement of the single market economy (CSME),” he stated.
Over the years, there have been mounting calls for Guyana to leave Caricom and direct its focus on strengthening its relations with its South American neighbours.
Responding to these concerns, Granger said it is unfortunate that Caricom cannot progress at a faster rate but he reiterated that there really is no reason to leave.
“Things can go more quickly if there is a will by the heads of Government. I don’t think Caricom is sick. With some commitments on the parts of the heads of Government, we can go more quickly… There is nothing fundamentally wrong with Caricom, what is wrong is that we have not been implementing some of the measures agreed to,” he stated.
Caricom Deputy Secretary General, Dr Manorma Soeknandan recently urged all Caricom States to stand together and ride out the storm despite the number of challenges facing the regional body.
“Caricom has challenges, hurdles… together putting our shoulders under those will only make us stronger… losing one is not the answer,” she said.
She stressed that Caricom should not go through the recent Brexit (British Exit) experience.
Meanwhile, President Granger also reiterated that there ought to be no reason for the public to be concerned of any grave repercussions following the UK’s impending leave.
He noted too that both the Foreign Affairs Minister and British High Commissioner Gregory Quinn have declared that Guyana is not likely to be immediately impacted.
Granger posited, however, that it is too premature to make any concrete predications on what the outcome will be for Caricom, and by extension Guyana.
On the other hand however, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo believed that Guyana stands to lose a great deal from the Brexit fallout.
Jagdeo had stated that there is a strong possibility of Guyana losing its developmental funding once the UK leaves the EU, contending that Great Britain, more than the other countries, would normally represent the interests of Caricom States.