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Caribbean governance under the microscope

26 February 2012
Global economic crisis shapes discussions at 4th Commonwealth Caribbean Consultative Meeting

Public sector leaders in the Caribbean discussed challenges facing governments when they met in St Vincent and the Grenadines from 23 to 24 February 2012 for the annual Commonwealth Caribbean Cabinet and Heads of Public Service Consultative Meeting.

The consultations, hosted by the Governance and Institutional Development Division (GIDD) of the Commonwealth Secretariat, were held under the theme ‘From Public Administration to Governance'.

The meeting examined: the key role of governance in the development process; linkages between governance and democracy; the role of state-society interaction in promoting good governance and global good governance practices.

Dr Colin McDonald, Regional Adviser for the Caribbean at the Secretariat, said the meeting was crucial in furthering the Commonwealth’s goals of peace and development, economic growth and sustainable development.

Emphasising the public sector crisis’ in other countries, particularly Greece, and general global economic challenges, Dr McDonald said: “These harsh realities call upon us to think and work differently; the realities even ask us to question what we did and what we are doing. Even more fundamentally, the realities say to all of us shift your paradigm.”

Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves, who addressed the meeting, said development requires a government with a vision to: engage with investors; public servants who negotiate concessions and approvals; regulation of the private sector; promote effective planning; and enhance public access to goods and services.

The other specific topics examined were: Governance Issues: The Caribbean Regional Experience; and Taxation, Governance and Development.

Some of the major recommendations of the meeting were: a programme aimed to strengthen the centres of government within the Caribbean region; development of codes of conduct to guide senior public servants and politicians in the execution of their duties; strengthening systems aimed at the promotion of accountability and transparency within the public service; and the need to promote performance management systems within the region’s public service.