Eyewitness: Shaking up…Caricom

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana

If nothing else, Guyana’s shaking up Caricom, which will be observing its 60th anniversary next year! In those sixty years, it’s been a case of “one step forward, two steps backwards”! We started out – as usual – patterning our behaviour on our erstwhile masters. In this case, forming a free trade zone like Europe’s EEC with our CARIFTA (1968), then proceeding to a more integrated economic/political union with Caricom/CSME (1973/2009) following the EU. On both fronts we failed miserably – because of the Little Caesar Syndrome manifested by all the parochial leaders who don’t want to give up their “sovereignty”! Read, “power”!!

So, we have a situation where food self-sufficiency – identified from the very beginning in 1973 – wasn’t only NOT achieved, but the importation bill actually GREW!! It’s now over US$4billion and rising!! Anyhow, it looks like now that Guyana’s passed its “Local Content Act” to ensure that we Guyanese get first dibs on economic activities flowing from the new O&G sector, some in Trinidad have their knickers and bucktas all in knots!! And the irony is this Bill was recommended by former TT energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine!!

Can you believe this? When Burnham was rigging elections and (not unrelatedly) destroying our economy, CariCom did absolutely nothing. When we fled to their shores, we were treated like scum! Guyanese who were just trying to trade to make a living were harassed like pariahs at Piarco by Trinidadian officials. Pleas by our Government fell on deaf ears…as their wiping off some debts was used to bludgeon us into silence.

But Trinidad is really shameless on Local Content. Ask any Guyanese about trying to establish a business to get a piece of Trinidad’s action over the last six decades…and you’ll hear stories of how they were denied permission. So how come Guyana didn’t complain they were violating the Treaty of Chaguanas that launched CariCom?? Well, Trinidad was very sly and sneaky. They passed local content laws under cover as “LOCAL CONTENT & LOCAL PARTICIPATION POLICY & FRAMEWORK on October 7TH, 2004!!

While the goal and methodology were identical to our Local Content Act (TT’s “policy framework addresses local content and local participation in a manner that will maximise utilisation and development of Trinidad and Tobago nationals, businesses owned by nationals, and the domestic capital market in every aspect of the activities conducted in the sector”) they just didn’t pass it as LEGISLATION!!

So let the Trinis bring it on!! Let them try to make us accept them at the end of the barrel of a gun! They should rather follow the lead of Mia Mottley’s Barbados.
She’s crafting arrangements that benefit BOTH Guyana and Barbados. Win-Win is the way to go!

…the Police Force

Well, well, well!! Look like the Government’s taking the bull (the Police Force) by the horns and trying to wrestle it to the ground!! But what will they do to the bull? Like under Granger, the entire top brass has been given a makeover. As for the bureaucratic niceties, we can expect, like with Hicken’s appointment, they’ll all probably be challenged by the PNC. Starting from the sixties, when it was shown that the Police would tend to favour what Hoyte dubbed their “kith and kin” in the PNC, the PPP has wrestled with their challenge of “professionalising” the Force.

But what we’ve seen after the PPP took over in 1992, there’s a need for root-and-branch reform – not just tinkering at the top. And we’ve got to quit being dishonest about the fundamental flaw at the root of the non-professional Force – the ethnically-skewed composition that favours the PNC! Ironically, there’s legislation on the books on how to rectify this anomaly.
But everyone avoids this elephant!!

…the World Order

Lacking omniscience, human actions ALWAYS have unforeseen consequences. And
this is playing out in Europe, where NATO’s poking of the Russian Bear is exposing cracks in the western alliance.
And strengthening China