Prime Minister Mia Mottley today assured that heads of governments of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) were serious about advancing the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), while identifying transportation, communication and hassle free travel as areas for urgent attention.
“I refer specifically to the need for us to make life easier for those of our citizens – individuals and companies – who want to move between our countries and who want to do so without having to register and pay significant sums of money in each territory in order to do business,” said Mottley as she addressed the opening of the Ninth Meeting of the Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee on the CSME at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
“It is a matter that we believe can easily be remedied and it is one that will make that definable difference in a direct way to those of our citizens doing business in each of our territory,” she explained.
“We remain committed, even as we do all of this, and even as we meet in special sessions of heads in Port-of-Spain later this year, we remain committed to being able to identify how best we can reach the single market in a single domestic space in transport and the single domestic space in communications,” she added, while stressing the need for affordable and reliable regional transportation.
Mottley, who has lead responsibility within CARICOM’s quasi cabinet for the creation of the CSME, also acknowledged that other areas had been identified for action, adding that recent meetings of heads over the past four months were “a signal of our intention to be serious about the region’s business”.
Today’s meeting was also attended by CARICOM Secretary General Irwin LaRocque, Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne, Guyana’s President David Granger, Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness, St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, along representatives of the Grenada and St Lucia governments.
Mottley said she was especially looking forward to them addressing “some key strategic issues” relating to security of the region’s energy supplies, resilience of telecommunications, and “issues pertaining to how best we may assist one another in treating to this difficult hurricane period”.
“Today is but one step towards the larger meeting in December where we will not only address these matters that are taking us along this course, but we will also, by December, start to address some of the larger issues with respect to structure and equity with respect to the single market project,” the Prime Minister said.
She also expressed hope that by the next heads of government meeting, regional leaders would be able to sign off on a protocol on government contracts that would allow regional firms to bid for projects over a certain threshold in any member state.
In his address, LaRocque welcomed the idea of more frequent sub-committee meetings and greater focus on the CSME, pointing out that they were critical if the region were to review its progress and address challenges on an ongoing basis.
“We must therefore put in place the system of consultation at both the national and regional level and involve the private sector, labour, the youth and other stakeholders more intimately in the process,” he said.
“This will make for more effective decision-making and implementation while creating the feeling that we are all in this together. An important aspect of moving the process forward is a need for member states to make every effort to implement the agreed commitments and obligations. The approved implementation plan sets out timeframes for so doing in the short, medium and long-terms,” he added. (MM)