July 25, 2011

Old problems for Caricom's New SG

THE formal appointment of Irwin LaRocque as the new secretary general of the Guyana-based Caricom Secretariat is expected to be completed this week with a letter from current Community chairman Dr Denzil Douglas, the prime minister of St Kitts and Nevis.
For almost six years, starting in September 2005, the Dominican-born economist has been functioning as one of three assistant secretaries general of the 38-year-old Community. His chief responsibility was Trade and Economic Integration.
At 56, LaRocque's choice as SG has come as a surprise to officials of various regional organisations, who prefer not to be quoted, as well as to the Community Secretariat staffers, who prefer to comment more on his "politeness" and "respect for procedures" within the administrative structure than on other factors.
He was chosen from a shortlist of five candidates, submitted by a "search committee" that was established by the Heads of Government last August following the decision of Edwin Carrington to retire at the end of 2010 after 18 years as secretary general. That development itself took place against the backdrop of what some have euphemistically termed a " very frank dialogue" in Jamaica involving Carrington and then Caricom chairman Prime Minister Bruce Golding.
So, after some ten months of work by a "search committee" whose terms of reference, including the required skills and expertise of a new secretary general, were never clearly outlined as public information, the five shortlisted candidates were interviewed by the Caricom Bureau and, finally, by a process of telephone conversations, LaRocque was announced as the new secretary general.
As some highly respected and experienced regional technocrats and thinkers see it, Caricom's 15 Heads of Government now have a new SG on board in the person of an "in-house" appointee, but are still far removed from dealing with the pivotal factor to which they themselves have often referred -- the urgent need for a "comprehensive review" of the structure and functioning of the Secretariat.

Read full article here.

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