Media Center



October 31, 2016 - Washington, D.C.

Secretary-General Almagro
Assistant Secretary-General Mendez
Distinguished Heads of Delegations

I have the honor to speak on behalf of the 14 Member States of CARICOM on this most important occasion.

I wish to convey our profound gratitude to the Chair of the Committee on Administration and Finance, His Excellency Leonidas Rosa Bautista of Honduras and his two Vice Chairs, His Excellency Patrick Andrews, Permanent Representative of Belize and Mrs. Cynthia Hotton, Alternate Representative of Argentina, and the respective Working Groups for their work and efforts towards deriving a Programme Budget that would best reflect the inputs of all Member States.

CARICOM recognizes that this was not an easy task by any stretch of the imagination. We sincerely appreciate their assistance along with Members of the General Secretariat in navigating through waters which have been raging and fraught with uncertainty.

Mr. President, CARICOM offers its abiding desire to transform our Organization into an effective and relevant collective body corporate that will engender hope and will deliver a brighter future for our Hemisphere. We therefore pledge to continue to cooperate and work closely as we seek to chart the OAS course through the current storm, on to safe, tranquil, and productive shores.

Mr. Chairman, CARICOM stands firmly with other Delegations that will support an Organizational vision and strategy that will culminate into a plan of implementation which will address the financial and administrative health of the OAS. These initiatives should span over the long term and must not be confined to short or medium term “quick fixes”.

For many years the OAS has taken an ad-hoc and reactionary approach to planning and in the formulation of its annual Programme Budgets.

The resultant impact has been chronic and expansive recurrent deficits, arbitrary expenditure reductions, incestuous borrowing and unresponsive organizational realignments.

Therefore, Mr. Chairman, CARICOM is emphatic in its expectation that management, planning, and budgeting in the OAS should be driven by objectives, thereby being results based in its orientation and application, versus being subjected to instances of crisis and exigency.

In order to turn the tide and to be able to weather the storm, the Organization, in partnership with Member States, must commit to implementing critical reforms.

These reforms must be inclusive of the revision of the current archaic and outpaced legislative framework. Modernization of operations will be negated or nullified in the absence of reforms to the foundational basis of authority which is embodied in the Organization’s statutes.

Restoration of Financial Fundamentals

The OAS must restore financial fundamentals in its Administrative processes and its fiscal management. Costs and Expenditures must be rationalized and income and revenue generation must be predictable and sustainable.

The Organization should seek to reposition itself to attain, and direct, its technical competencies to address, in real dollar terms, the costs, albeit human resources or opportunity costs, which are associated with its business operations and should respond to the demands relative to the fulfillment mandates. The Organization must determine and identify operational deficiencies and efficiencies and recognize areas where opportunities may exist or may emerge, in order to adjust its approaches accordingly.

The OAS must take appropriate and immediate measures to close efficiency gaps and eliminate administrative and operational duplication and redundancies.

Furthermore, the OAS must invest and target its efforts in achieving its core competencies and enhancing its areas of comparative advantage. This will require that the General Secretariat resist the temptations of venturing beyond its statutory remit or expanding beyond its multilateral berth.

Organization Realignment

When considering human resource matters, the Organization should conduct post and job function audits and related technical evaluations. Such evaluations should influence the OAS human resource policies and assist in determining the precise level of employment (Professionals Posts, Trust Positions and CPR’s), their skill set and other human resource requirements, which are most appropriate and efficient for this multilateral Organization.

The core functions of the OAS are historical and have remained relatively stable. However, it appears that every year there are changes being made to the organization’s structure; Secretariats are being added, Departments moved and removed and the number of institutional Trust Positions have been inconsistent.

The Organization should maintain fidelity in right-sizing its structure consistent with the Four Pillars.

While we do not doubt the legislative basis which empowers the organizational realignments, we are however cognizant that these activities are not expenditure neutral and it is costing the Organization. It therefore poses the question as to whether these adjustments are justified, qualified and are quantified based on consistent and on sound technical and financial precepts.

Institutional Good Governance

The OAS should impose specific institutionalized measures to address fiscal discipline and restraint. Therefore, the General Standards, and more specifically, the provisions which govern fiscal management and administration require a comprehensive review and updating.

While CARICOM applauds intention to review Chapters VII and VIII of the General Standards, a piecemeal approach is not adequate and may further exacerbate the reform process.

CARICOM also looks forward to expediting the competitive process for the selection of a substantive Inspector General and reaffirm the importance of a robust staff to facilitate the strong internal audit function in the OAS.

The Organization must predicate its financial management and administration on best business practices and accepted international standards.

Human Resources Policy Review

Mr. Chairman, CARICOM is committed to an OAS which will implement human resource policies which are merit-based, equitable, transparent, and non-discriminatory. As such, these tenets should be respected and strictly adhered to in the processes of recruitment, appointment, transfer, remuneration, promotion, separation, and contracting.

Mr. Chairman, CARICOM is of the firm conviction that proper and meaningful attention be rendered in respect of geographic representation at all levels and layers of the Organization. Moreover, rhetoric must be replaced by implementation in order to materialize the frequent commitments which were made to enact an affirmative action in the Human Resource policies of the OAS.

Notably, CARICOM represents 40% of the membership yet represents only 8.9% of OAS staffing.

The Economic Case

The current financial crisis of the OAS is rooted in the global financial crisis affecting Member States and their ability to meet the quotas in a timely manner, with few exceptions. The economic challenges of the region are captured in World Bank Reports on the Economic Outlook for Latin and the Caribbean1 from 2013 to 2016. These have consistently called for structural reforms to support education as a foundation for innovation, competitiveness, trade, growth, and the reduction of inequality. While the region’s economic failings have contributed to the financial crisis of the OAS, the converse is true: the economic success of the hemisphere would underpin a more robust OAS. Therefore, attempts to rationalize the budget of the OAS should not undermine the growth prospects for the Member States of the region, particularly more vulnerable economies that depend on the Secretariat for Integral Development.

Mr. Chairman, the Development Pillar should not be disadvantaged in favour of any other. CARICOM is of the view that SEDI is one of the most productive areas of the Secretariat in terms of fund raising performance and impact of the programs. CARICOM supports the ONE SEDI structure and strategy elaborated by the Executive Secretary of SEDI. Therefore, CARICOM looks forward to SEDI being enhanced in order to appropriately address matters of critical importance to Small Islands Developing States (SIDS), for instance, the Corresponding Banking/De-Risking concerns, achievement of the 2030 Agenda, Climate change, the Blue Economy/Oceans, Energy Independence, Food Security, and other pertinent regional concerns.

Chair, when we speak of Human Rights, Democracy, Hemispheric Security, the Scholarships Programmes and the importance of the OAS Country/National Offices, these are all part and parcel and are woven into the bedrock which is Integral Development. Hence, we seek to be inclusive with our advocacy towards the Development Pillar rather than being exclusive or territorial in our pursuit for the betterment of all of our peoples.


Mr. Chairman, in conclusion, CARICOM wishes to draw from the sentiments, which are adapted from two distinguished individuals;

Firstly from George Bernard Shaw, “People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. We don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, they make them”.

Secondly, Mr. Chairman, we offer the following sentiments from my own Prime Minister, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris of St. Kitts and Nevis, “It is time for us to accept that we are one people, with a shared history, a challenging future and a destiny beckoning us always to work together in unity for our common and collective good”.

I Thank You and Members of this Assembly for your attention and we look forward to being in a position to join the consensus.


1 Augusto de la Torre, World Bank Reports: In Search of Growth, 2013; Jobs, Wages and Economic Slowdown, 2016; Latin America and the Rising South, 2015; Latin America Treads a Narrow Path to Growth 2015; LAC region’s new bet: getting back to growth through trade, 2016