The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) must do all it can to let the integration movement be owned by the people, Barbados’s new Prime Minister, Mia Mottley told Heads of Government.
This is according to a DPI release which said that in her inaugural address at the opening of the 39th CARICOM Heads of Government Meeting, the Prime Minister noted that the Community is running out of time to get the “buy in” of people to the integration movement.
The conference is being held in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
Buy in to the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) requires the single domestic space and ability for people to move without cumbersome red tape, PM Mottley said.
The Barbados Prime Minister cautioned that people will not forgive CARICOM if it continues to procrastinate or lack courage to implement the CSME. She also called for greater transparency in decision making by Heads of Government. Barbados holds lead responsibility for CSME.
Mottley became the Prime Minister of Barbados in March this year, in a clean sweep election. She is the first female Prime Minister for Barbados. PM Mottley’s call was echoed by returning Prime Ministers of Grenada, Dr. Keith Mitchell, and Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Brown.
Dr. Mitchell noted that CARICOM must adapt to the “new normal” to flesh out its own space in a changing global economic, social and political landscape as well as improving efforts to mitigate climate change.
PM Brown noted CARICOM must restore the people’s trust in the Community by the making decisions that go beyond agreements in principles. Outgoing CARICOM Chairman and President of Haiti, Jovenel Moise supported PM Mottley’s call for obstacle free movement particularly in relation to Haitian nationals who face travel restrictions to some member countries.
Meanwhile, Chairman and Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness, in declaring the Conference open noted the Community must reflect on experiences of regional integration over the years.
The hosting of the COCHOG in Jamaica is especially significant given CARICOM turns 45. On 4 July, 1973, four CARICOM Heads of Government affixed their signatures to the Treaty of Chaguaramas.
Back then, Errol Barrow, Prime Minister of Barbados, Forbes Burnham, Prime Minister of Guyana, Eric Williams, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago and Michael Manley, Prime Minister of Jamaica signed the Treaty, thus laying the groundwork for a ‘Community for all’.
PM Holness noted 45-year milestone is an opportune time to evaluate the Community’s institutions. “We owe it to the people to deliver on commitments made…,” he said.
“The single market is a victim of our own reluctance to fully and functionally establish it”, PM Holness opined. The critical role of the implementing the single market must also be addressed including the free movement of people across the region, he added.
Over the next two days, the Heads of Government and state will meet in plenary and caucus to deliberate a range of critical matters including measures impacting the implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), Crime and Security, building post-hurricane disaster resilience, and emerging geo-political developments which can have an impact on the region’s growth prospects. They will also receive and discuss the final report on the CARICOM Commission on Marijuana.