By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
REGIONAL talks ended today with no consensus on candidacy for posts in the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Organisation of the American States (OAS).
Prime Minister Perry Christie, chairman of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said member states have not decided whether to put forward a single candidate or present candidates as they are nominated by individual nations.
However, Mr Christie emphasised that the two-day inter-sessional summit marked considerable progress on key items concerning efforts to protect the financial services sector; prioritise development of cultural and creative industries; and expand capacity in the agriculture sector.
The regional body will establish a Committee of Finance Ministers to advance a high-level campaign against the "unjust" characterisation of the region as a high risk area for financial services.
"Because in many cases our indigenous banks cannot provide a high level of reward," Mr Christie said, "correspondent banks are closing their relationships with them because of the claim that the Caribbean is a high risk area for financial services.
"Unless this situation is addressed with urgency, the indigenous banks in each of our countries will be adversely affected in their operations," he said.
Other agenda items discussed were: the establishment of the CARICOM Committee of Ambassadors; revision of emoluments and proposed pension rules for judges of the Caribbean Court of Justice; financing of the CARICOM Secretariat and community institutions; reparations for native genocide and slavery; financing and composition of The Marijuana Commission; and relations with Dominica.
Mr Christie said: "One of the key items related to the leverage of our human, natural and cultural assets for the benefit of our community."
"We agreed that emphasis should be placed on developing the cultural and creative industries and the sport sector in a manner that would benefit the economies and the society as a whole. Specifically we have agreed to create the necessary legislation to advance the creative industries and establish a sustainable financing mechanism for the sector in collaboration with the CARICOM Development Fund and the Caribbean Development Bank and the private sector."
Mr Christie explained that a key part of the initiative will be a realignment of the education system.
The only candidate for the OAS Secretary General is Uruguayan Foreign Minister Luis Almagro. There are two CARICOM countries vying for the post of OAS Assistant Secretary General: Belize and Guyana.
Three countries have put forward candidates for the Commonwealth Secretary General: Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Ahead of the 26th Inter-sessional CARICOM Summit, regional pundits have opined that the lack of consensus on candidates for the posts, was evidence of disunity and lack of leadership to the disadvantage of the region's potential leverage.
Yesterday, outgoing chairman and Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne said: "Not necessarily, it shows we have a large cadre of qualified candidates within the region. Of the three candidates, they all have the capacity of serving as the Commonwealth Secretary General, and I also believe that they all have the capacity to succeed. If it was a situation in which we had inferior candidates then I believe the community would have asked the inferior ones to stand down, but that is not the position. They are all good quality candidates and it is very difficult to ask any of them to stand down."