Exploiting efficiencies and opportunities to deliver benefits to the people, was the central chord of Barbados’ Prime Minister, Hon. Mia Mottley’s address to the opening of the Thirty-Ninth Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government in Montego Bay, Jamaica, on 4 July, 2018.
The Prime Minister reminded the gathering, which included Heads of State and Government of all 15 Member States and four Associate Members, that the true “purpose and passion” of the integration movement was the well-being of the people.
Noting that citizens would not easily “forgive” the Community’s leadership for any further procrastination or lack of courage to deliver the expected results of integration, she charged her fellow Heads to take immediate action on a number of issues. These included a single domestic space for transport and for communication, among others, which she said were necessary for a fully functioning single market and economy with real benefits for the people. Alluding to the efficiencies to be leveraged, the Prime Minister cited the Caribbean Court of Justice which has both national and regional jurisdictions, as a model that can be applied to other areas of functional cooperation including trade and air transport.
She referred to the architecture that underpinned the Community’s arrangements for hosting the 2007 World Cup Cricket. The arrangements not only allowed hassle free travel in the ten countries, but also ensured that any security concerns could be addressed. She pointed out likewise, that the Joint Regional Communications Centre allowed the Region to have an advance passenger information system, making “[it] the first Region in the world to vet information against INTERPOL”.
“The Single Domestic Space for intra-regional travel must be the place where we must start if we are serious about the Single market and Single Economy”, she said.
In this vein, she reported on her government’s decision to enact legislation to remove the visa requirements for Haitians travelling to Barbados, which she said was in violation of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.
The Prime Minster called for greater information flows to enable the people to understand what was done and was being done.
“In the same way [that] we speak to our people through this open ceremony in a speech, our conversations among ourselves in plenary (not in caucus) ought not now to be the subject of instant streaming and broadcast?”
“I believe that if we were to do so, many of the things that people relate to and restrict to only economic and trade issues would, all of a sudden, [be] recognised are also about building a civilisation that is premised on the development and well-being of our people”.
“What is needed is for us to foster the genuine buy-in of our people, especially our young people. To do so we would have to first recognise [that] in 2018 we have [a] constituency of integrationists by intuition and beliefs. A generation of educated, worldly wise, confident Caribbean citizens who learn, live and love together; trade, work, and play together… No boundaries exist in the minds of our young people”, she asserted.
Prime Minister Mottley urged her fellow Heads to exploit the opportunities that would allow them to deliver the results to the people. She identified the blue economy and the Caribbean Sea as an example to expand the fiscal space for enabling this.
“Our maritime space is four hundred times that of our land area and unless we come to the understanding of how to conserve and how to exploit to economically [manage] our maritime area; Unless we understand the patrimony of Caribbean people, I believe we will not be able to fully deliver to our people”, she said.