CSME not derailed, just delayed
The Barbados Prime Minister says while the existing timetable for achieving the Single Economy aspect of the CSME has been delayed, it has not been abandoned.
BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, Monday July 4, 2011 – Barbados’ Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, who’s tasked with lead responsibility for the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), says the existing timetable for achieving the Single Economy and the remaining components of the Single Market was not achievable.
And he says in light of the existing turbulent social and economic environment, it’s not prudent to set any new deadlines at this time.
But Stuart has insisted that “by no stretch of the imagination should the decision to postpone be interpreted as an abandonment of the ultimate goal of the CSME”.
The Barbadian leader said the Single Economy remained a work in progress.
While recent negative events have revealed the high degree of financial interdependence that already exists in our region, we cannot pretend that our efforts at macroeconomic convergence have reached the point that would allow us to create and, more importantly, to sustain a Single Economy,” he told the 32nd Regular Meeting of CARICOM Conference of Heads of Government.
“The current turmoil in the Euro-zone and elsewhere has injected a dose of sober realism into our discussions… For Heads of Government to set yet another tenuous deadline in so volatile an environment, it would be highly irresponsible and an insult to the intelligence of our people,” Stuart added.
One of the sticking points of the CSME is the issue of Contingent Rights which are granted to a CARICOM national and his or her spouse and immediate dependent family members, if the principal beneficiary has exercised the right of establishment, provision of services, movement of capital or free movement of skills. This also includes the right of beneficiaries’ children to primary education, in whichever participating member states they live and work.
Prime Minister Stuart asserted that while his country fully supported the ultimate goal of complete unrestricted freedom of movement, Barbados could only support contingent rights on a phased basis.
“We can only hope to attain it through a phased and managed approach which does not strain the absorptive capacity of those countries which are the principal recipients and produce severe skills deficits in those which are the principal exporters,” he emphasized.
In the wake of criticisms regarding Barbados’ response to free movement of persons under the CSME, Prime Minister Stuart sought to set the record straight in reiterating that his country was fully compliant with its CARICOM obligations with respect to the free movement of the ten categories of workers specified in the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas and subsequent decisions of the Conference of CARICOM Heads of Government.
He reaffirmed Barbados’ commitment to what he described as the smooth and transparent operation of this vital free movement of persons regime, but insisted that it must be conducted with due diligence and probity to protect the integrity of the integration process as well as the security of his country.
“We insist that its rules must be scrupulously applied, both to facilitate those legitimately eligible to benefit from its provisions and to ensure that the criminal and fraudulent elements of our societies are not given free rein to manipulate the system, to the detriment of all,” he said.
“As lead Prime Minister for the CSME, I give you my assurance that the Government of Barbados, which I head, remains unequivocally committed to the pursuit of Caribbean integration. The building of a truly West Indian nation is as much a priority for me as it was for my distinguished predecessors. I pledge to remain true to their legacy,” Prime Minister Stuart affirmed.
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