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Lack of Research Undermining Caribbean Integration - Golding

Published:Monday | October 10, 2016 | 12:00 AMRomario Scott
Bruce Golding

Former prime minister and chairman of the Government's Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Commission, Bruce Golding, is of the view that lack of research is putting a drag on the integration process of Caribbean countries.

He noted that there is little coordination in repurposing the material and findings for non-academic use.

"The University of the West Indies has research, some of which was done many years ago, but having served their academic purposes, they have not been transformed for commercial application," Golding argued.

"Research is important in all of this," he added.

Following a recent World Bank report, which points to the underutilisation of the Caribbean waters, Golding said there is much room for collaboration and research to further benefit from the Caribbean Sea.

"There are tremendous marine resources. If you look at Guyana, they just discovered oil off their waters. Our efforts require two things: exploration to identify what is there, what can be harnessed and what can be exploited. Importantly, we have to look at environmentally stable ways to do these things," he said.

"So many of the Caribbean countries depend on the ocean as a part of their economic survival."

He said much more can be done to boost fishing. He was alarmed that Jamaica could be importing millions of fish from as far as China, "when we have the entire Caribbean Sea around us".

CSME AHEAD OF ITS TIME

Golding, who spoke to The Gleaner recently after a function at the University of the West Indies Mona Regional Headquarters, is also of the view that the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) is ahead of its time.

"You cannot have a single market with 14 different governments and 14 different parliaments operating as independent entities because a single market needs harmonisation of monetary policies, debt-management policies, and investment policies," Golding said in supporting his position, using the problems facing the European Union as an example of possible drawbacks of the stillborn single-market policy.

He further argues that one set of rules and standards is needed in order for a single market to be effective. That he does not see happening anytime soon as there are issues, with frameworks to be discussed, agreed, and implemented.

"We haven't reached there yet. We still have a long way to go before we get there," he said.

Golding did not completely dismiss the idea of having a single market but pointed to the need for research and discussion with the aim of harmonising critical policies.

"If you look at the success at the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States in terms of their monetary arrangements, maybe if we had something like that covering all the Caribbean countries, the Jamaican dollar would not be J$128 to US$1 now," he argued.

In the meantime, the chairman of the CARCIOM Commission shrugged off suggestions that he has backtracked from some of the hardline positions he had previously held as it relates to the subject of CARICOM.

"No, as a matter of fact, it is consistent with the mandate of the commission, which is to find ways to make it work," he said.

Writing in The Gleaner as a columnist, Golding argued that the disparities and peculiarities that exist in the different CARICOM countries do not necessarily make regional integration impossible, but "they most definitely define the type and scope of integration that is possible and explain why so many of the lofty objectives of CARICOM can, and will never, be realised".

He further wrote, "I am of the view that regional integration as conceived in the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas is unworkable."

romario.scott@gleanerjm.com