Enhancing regional air and maritime transportation and further advancing the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) are among matters for deliberation when CARICOM Heads of Government hold their 30th Inter-Sessional Meeting in Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis, 26-27 February.
Heads of Government will examine recommendations from a Special Meeting of the CARICOM Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) on Transportation, held in St Vincent and the Grenadines on 18 February, which dealt with, among other things the Multilateral Air Services Agreement (MASA), proposals for a regional ferry service and easier security check-in for in-transit passengers. MASA, when implemented, will serve as a mechanism to maximize the economic and social benefits arising from aviation activities for CARICOM air carriers.
The Meeting will seek to further advance measurable steps for action on the CSME which were identified at a Special Meeting of Heads in Trinidad and Tobago in December. These include new categories for free movement of persons, Heads of Government engagement with the private sector and labour, and operationalizing the Protocol on Contingent Rights which was signed by ten Member States during and since the 39th Regular Meeting in Jamaica last July. Security matters and blacklisting issues affecting Member States are also before the Heads for consideration.
Heads of Government will also have an exchange of views with the President of Estonia Her Excellency Kersti Kaljulaid.
The Meeting, at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort and Royal Beach Casino, begins at 9:30 on Tuesday 26 February with remarks by CARICOM Chairman, Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris of St Kitts and Nevis; outgoing Chairman, Prime Minister Andrew Holness of Jamaica and CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque.
BARBADOS has joined six other members of CARICOM in the signing of the Protocol of Contingency Rights.
Prime Minister of Barbados, the Hon. Mia Amor Mottley signed on behalf of Barbados during the final day of the 39th Regular Meeting of the Conference of the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in Montego Bay Jamaica on Friday evening.
The Protocol, which has been in the works for over a decade, paves the way for dependents of persons with approved Skilled Certificates to not only move freely with their loved-ones, but access basic social services. Other signatories included Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Suriname.
It is just one of the many initiatives co-signed by the Heads of Government. Chairman of the conference and Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness, acknowledged that there is a sense that CARICOM is “all about talk”, and the view that representatives are just “kicking the can” down the road during Heads of Government meetings, with little to show for it as it relates to the CSME. However, he assured that this is far from the truth.
Prime Minister Mottley agreed with her Jamaican counterpart and defended the positions taken over the two-and-a-half day conference saying: “For this protocol to have been signed today is the most significant event in the history of Caribbean affairs since the Single Market was signed here in Jamaica and came into effect here in Jamaica in 2006.”
“This is where it matters. This is where it makes a difference to the lives and decision of people and I think that the media can work with us to communicate in a tangible way what this means for every Caribbean citizen who belongs to a country that is signatory to the Single Market.
“I also want to point out that far from being kicked down the road, the Council of Finance Ministers had not met for five years. The Council of Finance Ministers met on Wednesday morning. We agreed at this Conference of Heads that that conference will meet again in September in Barbados to do the critical work on the competitiveness issues for the Single Market….
“The integration of capital markets, the financial services architecture, the common policy for investment and the code for investment, such that we are not competing against each other in a mad race to the bottom.”
She stressed that these areas are critical towards being able to make the market work more effectively for those who want to invest across the region. She used Barbados as an example.
“In Barbados we have collective savings of just under BDS$9 billion. I would like to believe that our citizens will have an opportunity to have a larger return of what they get now if they put their money in a bank account. A bank account they are getting for savings 0.01 per cent. They are effectively paying the banks to keep their money. If there are opportunities in Jamaica, St. Lucia, Suriname or Guyana, then our citizens should be able to mobilise their savings to make that investment and vice versa,” she said.
Additionally she noted that the conference mandated that those agreements must be in place for signature before next July.
She also made the point that a number of timelines, dates and meetings have been set to address other matters of regional importance, including a Council for Finance and Planning committee meeting in September.
Mottley also commended the recommendation from the Golding Commission with respect to dispute resolution. “Whether persons should have to go to the Caribbean Court of Justice, which is a heavy cost or where they ought to have some intermediate dispute resolution body that is more effective or more efficiency, whether there are other aspects of how we change how we do business.”
“We can’t do this while doing ten other agenda items at a heads meeting. So far from kicking the can down the road we have created a special place and special space in November to deal with some of the larger issues that will hopefully inform our work over the next decade,” Prime Minister Mottley assured. (JH)
(Office of the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, 6 July, 2018) The Thirty-Ninth Regular Meeting of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community continues today (Friday 6th July, 2018). This morning began with the Second Plenary Business Session at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, Montego Bay, Jamaica.
The conference comes to an end today at which point a media conference will be held. Subsequently, an official communique inclusive of decisions taken, will be made available.
One notable decision taken however, is the hosting of a special single item conference to advance the CARICOM Single Market And Economy (CSME). This measure was proposed by Prime Minister Rowley and will take place in Trinidad and Tobago in November 2018.
Additionally, Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr the Honourable Keith Rowley, engaged in a bilateral meeting with the President of the Republic of Chile, His Excellency Sebastián Piñera, this afternoon. President Piñera succeeded former President, Her Excellency Michelle Bachelet, who hosted Prime Minister Rowley to an Official Visit to Chile in May 2017.
The CARICOM Single Market (CSM) is the ultimate manifestation of Regional Integration. This is according to Chairman of the CARICOM Conference of Heads of Government and Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness. He was speaking at the opening of the Thirty-Ninth Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM on Wednesday evening in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
According to Prime Minister Holness, some of CSM’s pillars represent the only means by which the Region’s citizens will experience the process of integration. He said the leaders of the community should therefore relentlessly pursue the goal of overcoming what he called their implementation debt.
We must address the critical role of the Single Market in supporting economic development, in further facilitating trade in goods and services, the expansion of investments and the free movement of people across our Region”, he said.
Prime Minister Holness also called on all Member States to summon the political will to ensure that all programmes and initiatives were strategically focused and geared towards meeting an ambitious process of reform. He said it was imperative to undertake an honest and thorough assessment of whether the Community was appropriately positioned to collectively advance economic cooperation for the mutual benefit of the Region’s countries and peoples.
Turning to the issue of crime and violence, the Chairman said it would be one of the priorities of Jamaica’s Chairmanship, which will last until the 31 December. He stated that while gun and gang violence had decreased in some Member States, it had escalated sharply in others. This he said has had significant effects on citizen security and economic development prospects.
He urged the Heads to ensure that everything possible was done to make sure the well being of the Region’s economies, infrastructure and territory were protected from threats related to criminal activity. He expressed the view that those challenges transcended borders and were difficult for any one country to solve alone. He posited a synergetic approach through increased vigilance information sharing and networking among Member States and International Development Partners as one solution.
Building resilience to climate change and natural disasters was another matter raised during the Chairman’s address. He said it was an absolute imperative for survival as the costs associated with the frequent reoccurrence of natural disasters were excessive. To highlight the gravity of the situation, Prime Minister Holness pointed to statistics from the World Bank which indicated that Hurricane Irma caused damages of 14% of GDP for Antigua and Barbuda and 26% of GDP for Dominica.
Our reality is one of deep vulnerability created by existential threats that far transcends our income status”, he stated.
On a more positive note, Prime Minister Holness said the Caribbean was taking responsibility for designing appropriate risk mitigation, risk transfer and risk financing tools. He said CARICOM was absolutely important from functional, economic and resilience perspectives and was the means by which the Region would be able to survive and recover from existential threats.
Mr. Holness also used the opportunity to reaffirm Jamaica’s commitment to the principal objectives of CARICOM, including the expansion of trade and investment opportunities for its members, the promotion of foreign policy coordination and structured functional cooperation. He outlined that Jamaica’s chairmanship would have specific focus and intention, mindful of the rapid dynamics of the global world and the need for effective response to the changing realities. He said the theme being followed for the Chairmanship was ‘Building stronger resilient and secure partnerships for prosperity’.
In concluding, Prime Minister Holness said that there was no doubt that CARICOM would have to contend with challenges, uncertainties and setbacks in pursuit of Community building efforts, but in order to keep progressing, the Region would have to keep evolving.
I unreservedly believe that it is worth recommitting to collectively harnessing the potential to drive development and prosperity in the Region. Indeed, we have a responsibility to our people to drive real and measureable progress. Let us not fail them. Our collective future depends on our commitment to building stronge,r resilient and secure partnerships for prosperity”, he concluded.