Dominica PM, St. Lucian hotelier clash over CSME

Roseau, Dominica, May 31, 2006 – Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit is taking President of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, Allan Chastanet, to task over comments the hotelier apparently made on the Caribbean Single Market and Economy.

Skerrit, in a government statement yesterday criticized Chastanet for stating at an awards ceremony of the Dominica Hotel and Tourism Association last weekend,
 that “the CSME offers nothing for the OECS.”

Chastanet reportedly added, “The question is why is it taking our ministers so long to figure out that the CSME offers nothing for the OECS. Right now Trinidad and Tobago has a massive trade surplus with us. We don’t have a hope in hell in competing.”

But Skerrit, who has lead responsibility for Free Movement within CARICOM, stated yesterday, “I don’t’ believe anybody should give the region the impression that the CSME is a waste of time. The same people who complain that there is not enough cooperation, there is not enough organisation, there is not enough integration…When there is a determination on the part of Caribbean leaders and the people of the Caribbean to move ahead with the integration process, the very same people come and criticise us.”

Chastanet, however, is standing by his statement. In a response yesterday he claimed that the sub-regional grouping was already a huge financial burden to its Eastern Caribbean members.
 
“We pump money into these ‘regional institutions’, yet when attending international meetings, we send separate delegations, burning precious resources. Can’t our little territories speak with one voice?” he queried.
  
Chastanet also challenged the prime minister’s assertion that “there is a determination on the part of Caribbean leaders and the people of the Caribbean to move ahead with the integration process,” noting that here has been no referendum on the CSME in the region. (HBN)