As regional stakeholders gather in Georgetown to discuss the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) initiative over a two-day session, they were urged to look at what was done wrong in the past and correct them so that the region can move forward.
Addressing a gathering of regional stakeholders at the Ramada Princess Hotel this morning, Director of the CDB’s Economic Department, Justice Ram, said that the region needs move away from the old way of doing things and focus on the new way of working to move the CSME initiative forward.
“We really need to step back today and take a look at what we’re doing in the region so that we can jump better in the future… I think that we can flip those challenges and boost the resilience of our region,” he posited.
The two-day consultation session will feature presentations from key personalities in the region including St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves and former Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding.
Prime Minister Gonsalves in his presentation pointed out that while the CSME has many aspiring components for the long run, emphasis should be placed on what can be done now.
“The currency convertibility and the freedom of movement… I don’t think they are going to happen in five years, I don’t think they are going to happen in my lifetime so I believe that we should keep those as aspirational and do many practical things that we can do immediately,” Prime Minister Gonsalves posited.
On the other hand, CARICOM’s Secretary General, Ambassador Irwin LaRoque, posited that while the region has achieved a lot under the CSME initiative, there is still so much more to be done.
The Secretary General went onto bemoan the slothfulness at which policies are being adopted and implemented by member states.
The consultation session will allow a series of panel discussions on what the CSME objectives and priority measures should be; a more and effective CSME; the Free Movement of Persons and Public Awareness.
The findings and recommendations from this engagement will be considered by the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) and also to inform the review of the CSME being undertaken by the CARICOM Conference of Heads of Government Conference at its upcoming meeting next month. (Vanhu Manickchand)