GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Friday February 17, 2017 – The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) must expedite the full implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) and stop procrastinating.
That was the charge President of Guyana David Granger, issued to Heads of Government and delegates at the opening of the 28th Intersessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM yesterday morning.
“Economic cooperation is a fundamental pillar of our community. The Caribbean, if it is to escape the hazard of economic emasculation in today’s global environment, must expedite the full implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). We face threats that include dampened demand for our goods and services and distortions in our financial sectors caused by de-risking by international banks,” said the new CARICOM chairman and host prime minister.
“The CSME has the potential to enhance private sector growth and competitiveness by providing access to a larger pool of resources, facilitating the movement of human capital, catalysing the establishment of regional businesses and encouraging the free movement of goods. The CSME must not be allowed to become a victim of equivocation and procrastination.”
A similar view was expressed by outgoing CARICOM chairman, Prime Minister of Dominica Roosevelt Skerrit. He said the region could not afford the “luxury of procrastination”.
Skerrit lamented that last July, at the Heads of Government Conference, he urged the leaders to use whatever powers were available at their disposal to work towards the speedy and effective implementation of matters have long agreed upon, yet today “many of these matters are still pending, as they languish in our Ministerial Councils, Committees, Commissions and Working Groups”.
“Whether this is due to them being inquorate or member states asking for time to consult, or even officials not being adequately prepared, the effect is the same – a hindrance to progress,” he said.
“Of particular concern is the inability of the Legal Affairs Committee comprising our Attorneys-General to come together to deal with critical agreements with respect to both the CSME and regional security. I am also concerned that our Council for Finance and Planning has not been able to meet for a considerable period of time. We can and must do better.”
The CSME, a regional flagship programme, is one of the main agenda items of the two-day Intersessional meeting. The CSME is considered the best vehicle to promote economic development and integration, and last July, CARICOM Heads of Government had requested a review of the programme. That review will be considered by the leaders.
CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, in his address to the opening ceremony, also focused on the CSME, pointing out that it was timely for the Meeting to consider a comprehensive review of the programme.
“Ideally, a review of the CSME must not only be about what has been done, or not done, and what might have been the constraining factors; it should also be about the impact and how it has measured up to intent and expectations, and therefore how the shortcomings might be addressed,” he said.