GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Dec 28, CMC – Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary General Irwin LaRocque says restructuring the Guyana-based Secretariat will be among his priorities in 2013.
Revamping the administrative arm of the Community was one of the recommendations of the Landell Mills Consultancy, and regional leaders had mandated a Strategic Plan and Change Process to effect the transformation.
According to a CARICOM statement, LaRocque has indicated that implementing the plan would be undertaken during the new year.
“We have already lined up the necessary resources to get it done and I intend to start in earnest the Change Process or the Transformation Process that our heads have mandated,” he said, noting that with the assistance of a foreign donor, “we have been able to engage a change facilitator who will be advising me on the way forward.
“But the change process and the leadership of the change process rest with me. So it’s going to occupy a significant amount of my time,” he added.
LaRocque said that the change process would not be confined to the Guyana-based Secretariat.
“It is about the Community. It is about changing what we do, how we move forward. It’s about prioritizing what we do as a Community. I have said before: it can’t be business as usual. We can’t be all things to all people. We need to focus, make advances and have an impact on the ground with the people of the Community,” he said.
The Secretary-General said some aspects of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) would also be advanced during the new year.
“One of the questions that I get throughout the Community when I interact, particularly among the young people, is the movement of CARICOM nationals. Some attention will be paid to that and Contingent Rights as well so that the rights attendant upon moving throughout the Community will be also addressed. “So there are a number of big issues which will be on our plate. I will pay equal attention to social aspects and to functional cooperation aspects of integration, along with the CSME,” LaRocque said.
The 15-member CARICOM grouping will observe its 40th anniversary in 2013 and LaRocque, said while he is aware of the financial hardships confronting the regional integration movement, there was need for greater unity among the Caribbean countries.
“I know our Community is going through some challenges. The economic situation globally is not the greatest one and of course, impacts upon us all, and we find ourselves generally in a challenging period, one which leads us to the conclusion that in such challenges we need each other more, and by working together as a Community we can achieve what we set out to do,” he added.
LaRocque, who assumed office in August last year and has visited most of the CARICOM countries, said he had “deliberately set out initially to reach out to the people of the Community, to put a face to integration and to bring integration to them in terms of what we are doing; to put the people back at the centre of integration”.
The Secretary-General said that he found the interactions with the various stakeholders “quite interesting, and while there are some legitimate question being asked, I found a great sense of commitment and hope and an acknowledgement that if CARICOM did not exist today, we would have had to invent it.”
During 2013, LaRocque said he intends visiting Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, and the Turks and Caicos Islands, since “they are an integral part of what we are doing”.