Tackle CSME issues head on, urges CARICOM Chairman
PORT OF SPAIN – Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Chairman, Prime Minister Andrew Holness of Jamaica, has urged a “head on” approach to tackling of complex issues during the Special CARICOM Heads of Government Meeting on the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) underway in Trinidad and Tobago.
The two-day meeting, which wraps up later today, is addressing the rate of implementation of the CSME and making sure its benefits are available for CARICOM nationals.
“The issues slated for discussion at this Special Meeting of the Conference are of varying complexity. Some will no doubt evoke different, even conflicting views but we must confront them. We must also tackle ‘head on’ the imperatives if we are to make this important regional integration process deliver on its promise,” Prime Minister Holness said.
“I am, however, encouraged by the fact that our Community has a long tradition of dialogue and compromise. For this reason, I remain convinced that our deliberations over these two days will culminate in unity of purpose and consensus on a strategy to not only expedite the CSME implementation process across Member States but to also to make the CSME more effective.”
Holness said he was nearing the nearing the end of his chairmanship with mixed feelings. He said he felt a sense of pride in the renewed energy placed behind efforts to make good on commitments to CARICOM’s estimated 16 million citizens, but was concerned about lack of implementation.
“In some respects, we have sought to simply get things done by following through and implementing some critical decisions with a view to making the mechanisms within CARICOM rational and functional. However, it cannot have escaped your notice that even with this renewed energy and additional meetings, that implementation of our decisions remains uneven and less than optimal,” he said.
The Jamaican leader noted that some leaders had demonstrated their firm commitment to ensure that the CSME regimes not only work for the principal beneficiaries but also their families, through the signature of the Protocol on Contingent Rights, but more was required.
“During the course of this special meeting, we will be expected to push the boundaries even further by addressing other important areas that need our full attention. We will be called upon to examine in more detail lessons that can be gleaned from the Report of the Commission to Review Jamaica’s Relations within the CARICOM and CARIFORUM Frameworks – a report commissioned by me with the ultimate goal of not only determining which aspects of our regional engagements have not met their intended objectives to advance the regional integration process, in line with the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, but what changes we should make/what recommitments could ensure that the goals of the CSME be successfully achieved in the interest of all our peoples,” he said.
“I am gratified that the Conference, not only welcomed the report as being an important analytical piece of work, in relation to the objectives of the CSME but we also agreed that the findings and recommendations in that Report ought to be examined in detail to determine what could be of most benefit to achieving the objectives of Member States and the Community.
“In this connection, we will, at this meeting, also be called upon to consider Some Salient Issues for Resolution in CARICOM – a paper written by our colleague [St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves]. As the longest serving Head of Government in our region and as the only Head of Government to have publicly commented on the contents of the CCRC Report shortly after its release, we are appreciative of the insightful comments of Prime Minister Gonsalves. We regret that he is not with us for this meeting, but we are sure that his Minister will represent him well presenting additional perspectives on how we can collectively and practically serve the interests of our countries and peoples,” Holness added.