…as Caricom Inter-Sessional HOG meeting kicks off
The Twenty-eighth Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government (HOG) of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) kicked off today at the Marriott International Hotel, with resounding calls for more to be done in the advancement of the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME) initiative which was acknowledged as being stagnant.
President Granger, who is now the Chairman of Caricom, in his opening remarks addressed the legacy of the establishment of Caricom which he noted is premised on regional integration of smaller economies to be better equipped to cope internationally.
According to Granger “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.”
The President said further that “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.”
He noted that “the ‘Spirit of Chaguaramas’ is not the ghost or ‘jumbie’ of a dead project. It is the vital breath of life that inspires us to intensify regional integration.”
Granger also spoke about the need to proliferate food and energy security within the Community.
Articulating similar sentiments was Caricom Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin Larocque, who noted in his opening remarks that “the majority of our Member States have been grappling with low growth, high debt and the consequent pressure on the fiscal position.”
Larocque said that while considerable progress has been made in implementing the CSME, a comprehensive review of the same is needed. “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 that “with a US$500,000 grant from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), a consulting firm has been working with us in developing a Gender Sensitive CARICOM Results-Based Management System. That System includes performance scorecards, as we seek to ensure that we use an evidence-based approach that will focus on results, and allow us to track the progress of integration.”
According to the Secretary-General, with the Results-Based Management System Caricom will be able to judge through indicators just what they have achieved and what are the roadblocks deterring them. “It will foster a results-oriented culture, aimed at increasing the pace of regional integration and its impact on the lives of the people of our Region” said Larocque.
Larocque outlined that the pursuit of a safe Community which provides opportunities for social and economic progress has been challenging as ” some of our best efforts are being hindered by delays in our system. Starkly put, we are not delivering results as fast as we should in a number of areas.”
He noted that because of the slow delivery of results, Caricom’s Crime and Security agenda is being affected. “Crime and Security is not just a national issue but a regional one. The critical regional legal instruments that are awaiting finalisation would assist in the battle at the national level. The time is past due for the outstanding matters to be concluded with a degree of urgency” Said Larocque.
According to the Secretary-General “winning the battle for a safe and secure society brings with it more opportunity for economic growth and development. It will also provide a boost for one of our major economic sectors, Tourism. This sector is one of the prime drivers of economic growth, attracting major investment, creating jobs and boosting the creative industries, among others. Proposals for sustainable tourism development in our Region are therefore welcome and will be considered at this Meeting.”
The Secretary-General also spoke about the importance in developing the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector across the Caribbean Community.
President Granger, will chair the two-day proceedings which will see Heads of the 15 member states discussing issues of national and regional importance.