Sep 18, 2019 Last Updated 5:48 PM, Mar 4, 2019

Enhancing regional air and maritime transportation and further advancing the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) are among matters for deliberation when CARICOM Heads of Government hold their 30th Inter-Sessional Meeting in Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis, 26-27 February.

Heads of Government will examine recommendations from a Special Meeting of the CARICOM Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) on Transportation, held in St Vincent and the Grenadines on 18 February, which dealt with, among other things the Multilateral Air Services Agreement (MASA), proposals for a regional ferry service and easier security check-in for in-transit passengers. MASA, when implemented,  will serve as a mechanism to maximize the economic and social benefits arising from aviation activities for CARICOM air carriers.

The Meeting will seek to further advance measurable steps for action on the CSME which were identified at a Special Meeting of Heads in Trinidad and Tobago in December.  These include new categories for free movement of persons, Heads of Government engagement with the private sector and labour, and operationalizing the Protocol on Contingent Rights which was signed by ten Member States during and since the 39th Regular Meeting in Jamaica last July.  Security matters and blacklisting issues affecting Member States are also before the Heads for consideration.

Heads of Government will also have an exchange of views with the President of Estonia Her Excellency Kersti Kaljulaid.

The Meeting, at the  St. Kitts Marriott Resort and Royal Beach Casino, begins at 9:30 on Tuesday 26 February with remarks by CARICOM Chairman, Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris of St Kitts and Nevis; outgoing Chairman, Prime Minister Andrew Holness of Jamaica and CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque.

A special meeting of the Council or Trade and Economic Development (COTED) focusing on Transportation, will be held Monday in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. the Hon. Ralph Gonsalves, who is lead Head of Government with responsibility for Air and Maritime Transportation, will host the Meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Regional Ministers with responsibility for the Transport sector will hold discussions on a number of critical matters including the restructuring of the Regional Transportation Commission. The meeting will also hold talks on the Regional Maritime Safety and Security Oversight System (RMSSOS), and strengthening institutional capacity to deliver on the rights, benefits and obligations under the Multilateral Air Services Agreement (MASA). The establishment of a single air space is also on the agenda of the meeting as is the movement of agricultural products.
The Meeting will fulfill a mandate from the special session of the Conference of Heads of Government on the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) which was held in Trinidad and Tobago in December last year. At the December meeting, Heads of Government said that they would examine the re-introduction of the single domestic space for passengers in the Region.

They agreed to work towards having a single security check for direct transit passengers on multi-stop intra-Community flights. The Heads of government also decided that they would conduct a special session on Air and Maritime Transportation at the Intersessional meeting of the Conference 26-27 February 2019 to focus “on this critical aspect of integration as a whole and the CSME in particular”. The decisions of the COTED Meeting on Transportation will inform the agenda of that special session.

The Intersessional Meeting will be held in St. Kitts and Nevis.

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.

 

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