Oct 19, 2018 Last Updated 10:47 PM, Sep 21, 2018

ARBADOS has joined six other members of CARICOM in the signing of the Protocol of Contingency Rights.

Prime Minister of Barbados, the Hon. Mia Amor Mottley signed on behalf of Barbados during the final day of the 39th Regular Meeting of the Conference of the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in Montego Bay Jamaica on Friday evening.

The Protocol, which has been in the works for over a decade, paves the way for dependents of persons with approved Skilled Certificates to not only move freely with their loved-ones, but access basic social services. Other signatories included Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Suriname.

It is just one of the many initiatives co-signed by the Heads of Government. Chairman of the conference and Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness, acknowledged that there is a sense that CARICOM is “all about talk”, and the view that representatives are just “kicking the can” down the road during Heads of Government meetings, with little to show for it as it relates to the CSME. However, he assured that this is far from the truth.

Prime Minister Mottley agreed with her Jamaican counterpart and defended the positions taken over the two-and-a-half day conference saying: “For this protocol to have been signed today is the most significant event in the history of Caribbean affairs since the Single Market was signed here in Jamaica and came into effect here in Jamaica in 2006.”

“This is where it matters. This is where it makes a difference to the lives and decision of people and I think that the media can work with us to communicate in a tangible way what this means for every Caribbean citizen who belongs to a country that is signatory to the Single Market.

“I also want to point out that far from being kicked down the road, the Council of Finance Ministers had not met for five years. The Council of Finance Ministers met on Wednesday morning. We agreed at this Conference of Heads that that conference will meet again in September in Barbados to do the critical work on the competitiveness issues for the Single Market….

“The integration of capital markets, the financial services architecture, the common policy for investment and the code for investment, such that we are not competing against each other in a mad race to the bottom.”

She stressed that these areas are critical towards being able to make the market work more effectively for those who want to invest across the region. She used Barbados as an example.

“In Barbados we have collective savings of just under BDS$9 billion. I would like to believe that our citizens will have an opportunity to have a larger return of what they get now if they put their money in a bank account. A bank account they are getting for savings 0.01 per cent. They are effectively paying the banks to keep their money. If there are opportunities in Jamaica, St. Lucia, Suriname or Guyana, then our citizens should be able to mobilise their savings to make that investment and vice versa,” she said.

Additionally she noted that the conference mandated that those agreements must be in place for signature before next July.

She also made the point that a number of timelines, dates and meetings have been set to address other matters of regional importance, including a Council for Finance and Planning committee meeting in September.

Mottley also commended the recommendation from the Golding Commission with respect to dispute resolution. “Whether persons should have to go to the Caribbean Court of Justice, which is a heavy cost or where they ought to have some intermediate dispute resolution body that is more effective or more efficiency, whether there are other aspects of how we change how we do business.”

“We can’t do this while doing ten other agenda items at a heads meeting. So far from kicking the can down the road we have created a special place and special space in November to deal with some of the larger issues that will hopefully inform our work over the next decade,” Prime Minister Mottley assured. (JH)

(Office of the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, 6 July, 2018) The Thirty-Ninth Regular Meeting of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community continues today (Friday 6th July, 2018). This morning began with the Second Plenary Business Session at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, Montego Bay, Jamaica.

The conference comes to an end today at which point a media conference will be held. Subsequently, an official communique inclusive of decisions taken, will be made available.

One notable decision taken however, is the hosting of a special single item conference to advance the CARICOM Single Market And Economy (CSME). This measure was proposed by Prime Minister Rowley and will take place in Trinidad and Tobago in November 2018.

Additionally, Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr the Honourable Keith Rowley, engaged in a bilateral meeting with the President of the Republic of Chile, His Excellency Sebastián Piñera, this afternoon. President Piñera succeeded former President, Her Excellency Michelle Bachelet, who hosted Prime Minister Rowley to an Official Visit to Chile in May 2017.

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.

 

The CARICOM Single Market (CSM) is the ultimate manifestation of Regional Integration. This is according to Chairman of the CARICOM Conference of Heads of Government and Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness. He was speaking at the opening of the Thirty-Ninth Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM on Wednesday evening in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

According to Prime Minister Holness, some of CSM’s pillars represent the only means by which the Region’s citizens will experience the process of integration. He said the leaders of the community should therefore relentlessly pursue the goal of overcoming what he called their implementation debt.

We must address the critical role of the Single Market in supporting economic development, in further facilitating trade in goods and services, the expansion of investments and the free movement of people across our Region”, he said.

 

Prime Minister Holness also called on all Member States to summon the political will to ensure that all programmes and initiatives were strategically focused and geared towards meeting an ambitious process of reform. He said it was imperative to undertake an honest and thorough assessment of whether the Community was appropriately positioned to collectively advance economic cooperation for the mutual benefit of the Region’s countries and peoples.

Turning to the issue of crime and violence, the Chairman said it would be one of the priorities of Jamaica’s Chairmanship, which will last until the 31 December. He stated that while gun and gang violence had decreased in some Member States, it had escalated sharply in others. This he said has had significant effects on citizen security and economic development prospects.

He urged the Heads to ensure that everything possible was done to make sure the well being of the Region’s economies, infrastructure and territory were protected from threats related to criminal activity. He expressed the view that those challenges transcended borders and were difficult for any one country to solve alone. He posited a synergetic approach through increased vigilance information sharing and networking among Member States and International Development Partners as one solution.

Building resilience to climate change and natural disasters was another matter raised during the Chairman’s address. He said it was an absolute imperative for survival as the costs associated with the frequent reoccurrence of natural disasters were excessive. To highlight the gravity of the situation, Prime Minister Holness pointed to statistics from the World Bank which indicated that Hurricane Irma caused damages of 14% of GDP for Antigua and Barbuda and 26% of GDP for Dominica.

 

Our reality is one of deep vulnerability created by existential threats that far transcends our income status”, he stated.

On a more positive note, Prime Minister Holness said the Caribbean was taking responsibility for designing appropriate risk mitigation, risk transfer and risk financing tools. He said CARICOM was absolutely important from functional, economic and resilience perspectives and was the means by which the Region would be able to survive and recover from existential threats.

Mr. Holness also used the opportunity to reaffirm Jamaica’s commitment to the principal objectives of CARICOM, including the expansion of trade and investment opportunities for its members, the promotion of foreign policy coordination and structured functional cooperation. He outlined that Jamaica’s chairmanship would have specific focus and intention, mindful of the rapid dynamics of the global world and the need for effective response to the changing realities. He said the theme being followed for the Chairmanship was ‘Building stronger resilient and secure partnerships for prosperity’.

In concluding, Prime Minister Holness said that there was no doubt that CARICOM would have to contend with challenges, uncertainties and setbacks in pursuit of Community building efforts, but in order to keep progressing, the Region would have to keep evolving.

 I unreservedly believe that it is worth recommitting to collectively harnessing the potential to drive development and prosperity in the Region. Indeed, we have a responsibility to our people to drive real and measureable progress. Let us not fail them. Our collective future depends on our commitment to building stronge,r resilient and secure partnerships for prosperity”, he concluded.

Prime Minister of Barbados, Hon. Mia Mottley, addressed the 39th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government, which opened on 4 July in Montego Bay, Jamaica and reminded of the “purpose and passion” of the integration movement.

Stating that the purpose and passion was the people, she cautioned that they, particularly the young ones, would not wait around for much longer for results. Time is “running out”, she said.

The Prime Minister singled out a number of areas for immediate action, including the single domestic space for hassle free intra-regional travel.

 

“The Single domestic space for hassle intra-regional travel must be a place where we must start if we are serious about the single market and the single economy, [and] It must be the place if we want the buy-in of our citizens”, she said.

 The Prime Minister noted that a single domestic space for hassle free travel presupposes a single domestic space for transportation. To this end she charged her fellow Heads to address the concerns related to the regional airlines LIAT and Caribbean Airways, asserting that the Region "could do better with respect to moving people between island to island and country to country", in 2018.

Volderine Hackett

Tomorrow, CARICOM leaders head to the scenic Montego Bay, Jamaica, for their Thirty-Ninth Regular Meeting. The Meeting will be held 4-6 July at the Montego Bay Convention Centre.

As it was, more than two decades ago when Jamaica hosted the Eighteenth Meeting of the Conference in Montego Bay in 1997, the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) is the main focus. The Heads of Government gather this time around in a global environment that is different from what was occurring in 1997. The current background is of entrenched globalisation that has spawned cross-border networks in people, goods and services, and crime in all its manifestations as well. It is a background of limited positive performances and general economic downturn in the Caribbean, and international trade and financial postures that have potentially crippling effects on Member States. And, looming large and menacingly are the consequences of climate change on small states that are already vulnerable.

[caption id="attachment_28994" align="aligncenter" width="640"] CARICOM Chair, Jamaica Prime Minister Andrew Holness (Photo via JIS)[/caption]

The emphasis at the Meeting from 4-6 July under the chairmanship of the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, Jamaica Prime Minister, is the CSME. The Heads will be locked in discussion on the regional flagship programme on Thursday. They will also consider the Report of the Commission to Review Jamaica’s Relations within the CARICOM and CARIFORUM Frameworks, which also references the status of the CSME versus decisions that were taken to move the flagship programme forward.

CSME Focus

The CSME, conceptualised in 1989, seeks to create a single, enlarged, economic space by removing restrictions resulting in the free movement of goods, services, people, capital and technology. The Single Market component of the CSME was established on 1 January, 2006. While it has recorded progress, stakeholders are dissatisfied with the rate of implementation of some of the decisions taken to further develop the CSM. In prioritising the CSME, the Heads of Government had mandated a review of the programme which considered the status and challenges.

Leading up to the Meeting of the Heads of Government, the CARICOM Secretary-General held a Consultation in Georgetown, Guyana, which sought stakeholder feedback on the CSME. The forum was supported by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). The tone of the two-day forum was set with a high level discourse that was led by Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. the Hon. Ralph Gonsalves, former Prime Minister of Jamaica, Mr. Bruce Golding, and Head of Economics, Caribbean Development Bank. Dr. Justin Ram. The Consultation benefitted from inputs of the Region’s private and public sectors and labour, and also pursued matters related to public education on the CSME and will provide some context for the discussions in Jamaica. The outcomes of the forum will be used to inform the review of the CSME being undertaken by the Heads of Government.

 

There was the consensus among stakeholders at the Consultation that the CSME was critical to the sustainable development of the Community, but that implementation and buy-in by the populace were challenges. There was concern about the disparities in economic development of Member States which are participating in the CSME, as well as an acknowledgement that not all parties will benefit in the same way.

Some of the key observations and recommendations of Stakeholders at the Consultation were:

  • The Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas needs to be strengthened to better serve disadvantaged countries, regions and sectors
  • The CARICOM governance structure must be revamped to accommodate supranational initiatives in targeted areas of integration, including trade and economic integration
  • Functional cooperation, foreign policy coordination, security arrangements and trade activities of the Single Market must be improved
  • Governance structure of the CSME to be revisited
  • Private sector must play more central role in policy decisions
  • Data driven, results-oriented decisions need to be made
  • The CARICOM Secretariat needs to be restructured
  • Air and sea transport must be improved
  • The implementation of Member States’ obligations under the CSME is uneven
  • There is an absence of valid reasons for non-implementation of decisions on the CSME
  • There are capacity and resource constraints in Member States and implementation action required of Member States, in some cases, were complex and required far-reaching policy changes, legislative processes and executive action
  • CSME decisions appear to be in conflict with national/political interests/imperatives
  • There is need for the prioritisation of action and the development of an implementation plan
  • An enabling environment for macro-economic development must be improved
  • The focus of attention is on the movement of people and, outside of narrow interest groups, insufficient attention is paid to the movement of capital, technology, goods and services
  • Better communication is necessary for populace at national and regional levels
  • The Regional populace needs to be aware of plans and budgets of the CSME so that feedback and buy into the enterprise could be provided
  • There should be better use of social media platforms to spread the message

These are among the matters that will inform the discussions the Heads of Government will have on the first day of the Conference that will be devoted to the CSME.

Disaster Management/Resilience

When the Heads of Government met in Montego Bay more than two decades ago, the Meeting was held under the shadow of the eruption of the Mount Soufriere volcano in Montserrat, and as Member States were rallying around their sister country. They meet this week in the wake of another natural disaster – this time, Category Five Hurricanes - which occurred in 2017 and which devastated some of our Member States and Associate Members - and at the beginning of the 2018 hurricane season which threatens to be just a bad. Most of the Member States and Associate Members of CARICOM are in the hurricane belt.

 

As the Community moves to build back better and be more resilient, the Heads of Government will have discussions on how to build that disaster resilience following the passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Discussions will be held on funding for the climate resilience-building and rebuilding processes. The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) is currently hosting meetings in Jamaica on building resilience and disaster risk management. The outcomes of those discussions will be fed into the Heads of Government Meeting.

The Heads of Government are also expected to approve a Draft Declaration on Climate Change.

Statistics

Access to timely and accurate data is a challenge that the Community must confront. Emphasis has been placed on the need for decisions to be based on empirical data and, to this end, the Region has been moving ensure the Region's statistics systems supply quality data. At their last Community Council Meeting in mid-May, Ministers responsible for CARICOM Affairs recommended that the Strategic Framework of the CARICOM Regional Strategy for the Development of Statistics (RSDS) be placed before the Heads of Government for endorsement.

 

The Heads of Government Summit will be preceded by a Meeting of the Council for Finance and Planning (COFAP) and the swearing in of the President of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), the Hon. Mr. Justice Adrian Saunders. He replaces Sir Dennis Byron.

 

 

 

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