THE CARICOM Secretariat met with senior media operatives, including editors and senior reporters, Monday, as it continued its consultation process to finalise its five-year draft Strategic Plan. This plan will take into consideration recommendations and proposals obtained from several in-country consultations so as to reflect the needs and priorities of member states. The Strategic Plan originated after the recent decision by CARICOM Heads of Governments, during their last conference, to have a plan developed to drive the CARICOM grouping forward.
The three- day consultation, by a CARICOM appointed Change Facilitation Team led by Dr. Gwendoline Williams, raised issues such as an apparent lack of coordination amongst member states, a failure to promote the cultivation and use of crops and foods indigenous to the region, failure to harmonise regional ICT policies, and problems with travel between member states due to customs, immigration officials flouting agreements signed by member states and a lack of the perceived relevance of CARICOM by the common Caribbean resident.
According to Guyana’s Chief Diplomat Elisabeth Harper, the consultation is “intended to get an idea of how Guyana can contribute to the formation of the five- year Strategic Plan, which is one of the key areas of the CARICOM Reform Process. A key aspect of the process is to examine possible ways in which CARICOM can be restructured to meet the new needs of the community’s members and the reformation of various CARICOM institutions.”
Ambassador Harper said that similar consultations will be conducted with members of parliament, including the Speaker and government and opposition members, religious groups, civil society representatives, trade unions, youth groups and other stakeholders.
She added that interested persons can add their voices to the consultative process after the formal consultations are over. “Other views will be incorporated into the final report that will be presented to CARICOM Heads at the upcoming Inter-sessional meeting in 2014. That’s when the draft of the five-year Strategic Plan will be presented for their consideration”.