Barbados Prime Minister Meets with Regional Private Sector

Prime Minister Mia Mottley speaking to the regional private sector’s Chief Executive Officers and other officials during a recent meeting. (Photo Credit: BGIS)

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Thursday June 6, 2019 – Prime Minister Mia Mottley has underscored the importance of the regional private sector becoming a type of associate institution of CARICOM, saying it would be good for the Caribbean.

She expressed that view recently when she met at her official residence, Ilaro Court, with the regional private sector’s Chief Executive Officers to discuss the establishment of a regional body and implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).

The Prime Minister said it was ironic that after more than four decades of CARICOM’S existence, formal steps were now being taken “assiduously” to ensure the labour movement and the regional private sector’s formal participation in the regional organisation.

“As I indicated when we met in Port-of-Spain last year, it is impossible for us to see the growth of the regional economies and the creation of a single economy without understanding how best we can work with the [regional] entities…

“The meeting that I had at my office a few weeks ago would have allowed you to have a common platform as to what we are beginning to expect and anticipate from your participation,” Mottley told the regional private sector group.

She explained that the work with respect to the integration of the financial markets and the ability to allow the unlocking of access to capital would soon be completed by the CSME Unit.

The Barbadian leader added that those decisions would then be put before the Finance Ministers and Heads of Government over the next few months.

According to Mottley, those important decisions would not only be significant for the regional private sector and governments who wanted to see growth in the economies, but a signal to the international community that this region was not prepared to speak to them in a mendicant framework, but would do its part to ensure its growth and development.

She said the international community should be held partially accountable for the consequences of the current economic circumstances in the region.

“Whether it be by reason of their contribution to the degradation of our climate or the terms of trade under which we have had to perform, more often or not they use a one-size fits all approach that has refused to take into account that our capacity to distort trade in goods and services is just simply not there.

“And to that extent, therefore, for us to have consequences that have seen the implosion of domestic production within our markets simply to comply with international rules that really did not need our compliance, … has led to negative consequences in terms of loss of jobs and investment within our markets,” Mottley explained.

The Prime Minister emphasized the importance of this region putting in place air bridges, saying if this was not done, the opportunities would be constrained.

She said that since there was $47 billion available in savings, appropriate instruments should be introduced to allow governments to find a level of participation for ordinary Caribbean people with respect to how renewable energy enterprises were financed.

“We have as leaders to create that space for Caribbean people to be carried along in this investment framework. Similarly, to the extent that we do rely on foreign capital, we need to do so while ensuring that the redemption of the bonds or instruments happens, not in the foreign exchange in which it was raised but the local currency,” Mottley said.

President and Group Chief Executive Officer of the Massy Group of Companies, Gervase Warner, said they were examining how they could create a Caribbean private sector organization to engage with the Heads of Government on issues surrounding the CSME implementation.

He said they spent time thinking how to constitute a body that would be representative of all member countries of CARICOM.

“We wanted to make sure that not just big business was represented but also smaller businesses from different industries also had a chance to participate,” he said.

“What we want to make sure is that we have within this organization a structure that would allow us in each of the countries to find a way to hold meetings and to have engagement with even a broader set of actors and participants who may not necessarily be members of the council, but you will pull in for specific issues.”

Warner stated that Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, OECS, Barbados, Guyana, Suriname and Belize were represented by the regional group and work had to be done on the initial agenda.

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