Incumbent Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Chairman and Prime Minister of Grenada, Keith Mitchell says that a plan has been approved to accelerate the implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), which came in for harsh criticisms from Member States who essentially said that progress in this area had become stagnated.
The CARICOM Chairman touched on CSME during his end of year message where he spoke highly of the resilience and togetherness of member countries following the devastating category five Hurricanes, Irma and Maria, that ravaged the Caribbean.
“During the year, we also took a hard look at the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) and approved an Implementation Plan for 2017-2019 to accelerate the use of the measures under the regime” said Mitchell.
He continued “a lot has been achieved in implementing the CSME, including legal and institutional measures and mechanisms to support the free movement of goods, services, skills, and cross-border establishment of businesses. However, we will continue to review progress regularly to ensure that the benefits of this important aspect of our integration are accruing to our citizens.”
According to the CARICOM Chairman, one of the most important drivers of the Community’s economy, tourism, received special attention “as we sought to address both immediate and long-term initiatives aimed at stimulating sustainable growth in tourism. We focused on marketing strategies and agreed to support various Public-Private Sector initiatives, which would entail engagement with other Caribbean countries, companies and multilateral organizations.”
At the CARICOM Inter-Sessional Meeting held in Guyana earlier this year, President David Granger, who was Chairman at the time, underscored the need to expedite the full implementation of the CSME in order for the Caribbean to escape the economic downfall in today’s global environment.
“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,” the Guyanese Leader had noted.
Moreover, Secretary General (SG) for CARICOM, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, at the same meeting, posited that sustained economic development requires a cohesive response by working collectively and pooling resources.
“With all that is before us, it is relevant and timely for this meeting to consider a comprehensive review of the CSME, as agreed to last July. 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,” Ambassador LaRocque had stated.
Former CARICOM Chairman, Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit, had decried the slothfulness of progress particularly in carrying out the mandate of the Heads of Government Meeting.
He recalled urging Member States to use powers at their disposal to work towards the speedy and effective implementation of matters that were long agreed upon.
“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,” the former Chairman opined.