Former Saint Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has revealed that he had a very frank discussion with the visiting Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Dr. Carla Barnett.
” CARICOM is not working and I was very honest with her that as a Prime Minister I was spending less and less time in CARICOM and more and more time at the OECS level,” Chastanet told reporters on Wednesday.
Regional leaders who met virtually in a Special Session on Tuesday, May 11, unanimously agreed to appoint the Belize national as the 8th CARICOM Secretary-General.
She assumed office on August 15, 2021.
Currently, the opposition leader, Chastanet, recalled that Barnett’s appointment came during his tenure as Prime Minister.
“The goal was to hope to rebuild our strength in CARICOM,” the Micoud South MP and the United Workers Party leader explained.
He later wrote on his official Facebook page that he was impressed with the vision and passion which Dr. Barnett has for the Caribbean Community and wished her and her team the greatest success during her tenure.
But in telling reporters that CARICOM was not working, Chastanet called attention to the organisation’s ability to make timely decisions.
He disclosed that the issue grappled with the most was the matter of sovereignty.
“Is sovereignty so important that it will overcome efficiency? And then if you are not efficient, then you don’t have money to be able to do what you want so therefore you argue that you don’t have sovereignty. So the question is – the world sees us as one at the CARICOM level. We saw that with the banks – the banks think of CARICOM as one singular balance sheet,” Chastanet asserted.
But he lamented that the regional body does not act like one.
The former Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister reiterated his concern about civil aviation, noting that there’s one civil aviation authority in Central America but seven in CARICOM.
According to the former Prime Minister, an airline wanting to do business in the region would have to submit different reports.
“This is crazy, and when you are talking about we don’t have enough money even to do basic things, then we need to find more efficient ways to do other things, and that’s the trade-off with sovereignty,” he declared.
Headline photo: Dr. Carla Barnett & Allen Chastanet