Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley cannot continue to extempo this country’s foreign policy. This ad hoc approach could prove to be the breaking point of already strained relations with our CARICOM neighbours.
Dr Rowley has been asked on several occasions, in and out of parliament, to articulate his Government’s foreign policy to no avail. It has become glaringly evident that they are making it up as they go along.
At a time when a deft hand at diplomacy is needed to mend regional bridges, we have our Prime Minister, telling fellow members of our Caribbean community, “we have enough vagrants here”. This is the tone Dr Rowley intends to set for his visit to Jamaica carded for July 17. Prime Minister Holness has already announced a CARICOM Review Commission, whose mandate is to assess the CARICOM’s value to Jamaica.
The Jamaica Observer has noted that 60 percent of Jamaica’s imports come from Trinidad and Tobago. It is incumbent on Dr Rowley to pursue a clearly defined, data driven policy agenda in Jamaica and not simply ad lib. CARICOM cannot move forward on the basis of tactless comments and policies developed on the fly.
In an ever changing geo-political arena countries, like Jamaica, are employing a strategic, evidenced- based approach to policy making. On the other hand, Trinidadians and Tobagonians are being told reactively to “wait and see”.
The Opposition urged the Government to take a more proactive approach to foreign policy. The MP for Naparima and shadow Minister for the Ministry of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs, Mr Rodney Charles, posed a question in Parliament during Prime Minister Question Time, on what was the Government’s plan of action after the UK’s Brexit referendum. Rowley’s non-answer belied the fact that the Government has no plan and no intention to plan but simply react. The Prime Minister’s response that “we are all watching the television and we are all amazed” is shockingly complacent. Perhaps the Government and the Dr Rowley could take a break from watching television and start doing some actual work for which they are being paid.
The Government pursued no clear agenda at the recently concluded CARICOM Heads of Government meeting. The meeting was approached with no regard given to outcomes and deliverables. There has also been no report on what was achieved from his trip to the US, UK and Ghana. The only news coming from those trips were how much or little they cost.
While Kamla Persad- Bissesssar pursued clear goals, taking a leadership role on the international initiatives like the Arms Trade Agreement, increased women participation in politics, or climate change, or increased south-south cooperation, the same cannot be said for Dr Rowley.
He seems set on creating a legacy of no plan, no purpose and no ideas. This is a road characterised by ad hocism, vacuity of ideas, bankruptcy of vision, simplicity of thought, reactivity instead of proactivity and a woeful penchant for pejorative, condescending and demeaning characterization of our CARICOM brothers and sisters.
Rodney Charles, M.P., Naparima