Prime Minister Freundel Stuart says the time has come for “full and frank discussions” on the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Single Market and Economy (CSME).
“We have to look at what we have achieved, what remains to be achieved, what are the existing enabling features that can assist us in achieving and what are the disabling features that can stand in the way,” said Stuart, who is the lead spokesman on the CSME within CARICOM’s quasi-cabinet.
“We have to see where our strengths, weaknesses and opportunities are, and be prepared to deal with any threats to the achievement of our objectives,” he added during a recent meeting with CARICOM officials, led by Secretary General Irwin LaRocque, at Ilaro Court.
Also in attendance were Minister of Foreign Affairs, Senator Maxine McClean; Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, Senator Darcy Boyce; Barbados’ CARICOM Ambassador Robert Morris; Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office Sonja Welch; and CARICOM’s Assistant Secretary-General, Trade and Economic Development, Joseph Cox.
The two-and-half-hour meeting was held to update Stuart on the status of the implementation of the CSME, as CARICOM leaders prepare for their 28th Intersessional Meeting in Guyana next month.
While acknowledging that the CSME was a journey on which regional governments had embarked, Stuart warned that “this will never be a destination where at some stage one can say that the labourer’s task is over”.
He also cautioned that “free movement of people will never work perfectly in this imperfect world”. However, the Prime Minister said CARICOM should not allow random challenges to divert its attention from what it has achieved.
“We do not give ourselves enough credit for what we have achieved; we judge ourselves based on what we have not achieved,” he said while insisting that significant work had already been done.
He also suggested that the region was more closely integrated today than at any other time of its history while stressing Barbados’ commitment to the CSME.
“From its pursuit and realization, we cannot afford to retreat. Barbados believes the pursuit of this ideal can benefit the region,” he said.