Wed | Apr 1, 2020

‘Significant’ majority CARICOM support for Commonwealth secretary general

Published:Thursday | February 20, 2020 | 12:07 AM

BRIDGETOWN (CMC):

A “significant majority” of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders meeting here on Wednesday have expressed support for embattled Commonwealth Secretary General Baroness Patricia Scotland, who is seeking a second consecutive term in office.

Informed sources told the Caribbean Media Corporation that only one abstention had been recorded when the leaders discussed the matter on the final day of their intersessional summit.

The source would not identify the Caribbean country that had abstained, but said it would be fair to say “a substantial majority of CARICOM states supported the secretary general for reappointment”.

Second term

Earlier, a Commonwealth Secretariat statement indicated that Scotland “has been supported to serve a second term by the Commonwealth of Dominica, the country of her birth.

“As is customary, the leaders of all 54 Commonwealth countries will meet in June at their biennial summit in Rwanda to discuss, among other things, the reappointment of the Commonwealth secretary general,” the London-based Secretariat said in the statement.

Some Commonwealth countries, including Britain, have suspended voluntary contribution to the Commonwealth Secretariat after Scotland was criticised by auditors for “circumventing” the usual competitive tendering rules when she awarded a lucrative consultancy contract to a company run by a friend”.

London has withheld its funding of £4.7 million, joining New Zealand and Australia in doing so until the secretariat’s financial systems are tightened up and tested by external auditors.

The Commonwealth Secretariat is the central administrative hub for the intergovernmental organisation that comprises 54 countries – many of them former British colonies – and encompasses almost a third of the world’s population.

According to official figures, about two-thirds of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s funding, estimated at £18.4 million in 2018, comes from automatic subscriptions from member states, while the budget for the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation, which is discretionary and estimated at £12 million. The UK is the largest contributor to this fund.

Some Commonwealth heads of government have already rejected calls to give Scotland an automatic second term of office when it comes up for renewal this year.