The Barbados Labour Party (BLP) is holding Prime Minister Freundel Stuart responsible for Jamaica’s threat to quit the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Single Market and Economy (CSME).
However, the BLP said it was confident it could influence Kingston to remain in the regional grouping should it win the upcoming election, due by the middle of this year.
The Andrew Holness administration has said it may pull out of the CSME if a clear programme and definitive commitment to have it fully operational within the next five years do not materialize, insisting that in its current state the trade, work and travel mechanism did not benefit Jamaica.
Addressing a party meeting at The Lester Vaughn School in St Joseph last night, BLP leader Mia Mottley said as the country with lead responsibility for the CSME, Barbados had a responsibility to lead the process to ensure it works for all the people of the region.
However, she said Stuart had displayed no leadership and his inaction had weakened the regional initiative.
“We know that the Prime Minister has dropped the ball, but the truth is we know that we can turn it around and we can make things good again in this region and in this country,” Mottley told supporters.
“I have a message for Andrew Holness, the Prime Minister of Jamaica tonight from this platform. I ask you to hold strain. Hold on, my brother,” the BLP leader said.
“To our brothers and sisters in CARICOM, within three months of being elected as the next Government of this country we will get the Single Market and Economy going. We will start to take the steps to let you know that we are not just in this because it is a framework or agreement that we signed, but it is because we know it will make a meaningful difference to the people [of Barbados] . . . to be able to go into other countries and sell their services, or to work … in whatever capacity, especially if you’re not getting work at home”.
The Opposition Leader said the CSME held possibilities for every CARICOM citizen, “but you have to get the architecture right”.
Mottley suggested that Stuart was notorious for his inaction, which she said led to the ongoing sewage mess on the south coast.
It is this very inaction, she contended, that “has caused Jamaica to now say they don’t know whether they want to stay in the CARICOM Single Market and Economy, because nothing has happened in the CSME under the leadership of Freundel Stuart . . . in the last almost ten years, and certainly in the last seven [years]”.
CARICOM leaders are meeting in Haiti this week for their intercessional, at which Jamaica’s concerns will be discussed, Stuart said.