Jul 18, 2018 Last Updated 7:38 PM, Jul 11, 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

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