Prime Minister Freundel Stuart says while the single market component of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Single Market and Economy is “on the march”, the single economy element remains a challenge.
Speaking ahead of next month’s CARICOM leaders’ summit here, Stuart, who has lead responsibility for the CSME’s creation, noted that the single market had created an environment where goods, services and capital could move freely across the region and the establishment of businesses throughout the Caribbean could be facilitated.
“I would say that largely we have managed to get all those mechanisms in place. There are always a few remaining things to be done, in particular the contingent rights for people who establish businesses in respective countries. That has caused a few challenges because of differences in our legislation and the kind of inequalities between countries in the region at different levels of development,” Stuart said in an interview with the Barbados Government Information Service.
“Therefore, the rights that one country might be able to give easily, do not come as easily to countries less resourced; so we are still trying to plough our way through that,” he explained.
The Prime Minister also acknowledged that the creation of a single economy remained challenging.
He said: “A single economy where there are different taxation regimes in the individual units would create a lot of problems because the scope for playing off one country against the other would continue.
“We would need to harmonize our companies’ legislation so that there is a sense of being able to do business anywhere or being able to live anywhere and not feel you are disadvantaged by country ‘A’ or ‘B’,” Stuart stated.
He said the challenges of implementing the single economy had been compounded by the global economic crisis, which has been affecting the region since 2007.
Stuart noted that countries were still trying to come out of economic difficulties, including some who were in International Monetary Fund programmes and others who were trying to meet certain targets to ensure their situation did not deteriorate.
“So, within the context of those realities, countries have tended to be more inward looking than outward looking towards pursuing the goal of the single economy. It doesn’t mean that we have abandoned it, but we have had to face reality,” Stuart said.
He pointed out that CARICOM had set up a special commission on the economy in an effort to reach common understanding on how to get the economies of the 15-member grouping back on track.
Barbados will host the 36th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM from July 2 to 4, at the Hilton Barbados Resort, under the theme: CARICOM: Vibrant Societies: Resilient Economies.