All those individuals who are waiting to deliver the last rites to the stalled CARICOM Single Economy should think again.
While noting that there were some significant hurdles in the way of its implementation, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart said there had been some progress.
By virtue of being Barbados’ leader, Stuart has lead responsibility for the implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy.
Last night, as he delivered this year’s University of the West Indies Distinguished Alumni Lecture at the Errol Barrow Centre For Creative Imagination, Stuart said there were some in the region who had wrongly predicted the demise of the regional integration movement and CSME.
The topic he covered was The Global Crisis: An Opportunity For Collaboration And Cohesion Between CARICOM Member States, and the official said the region “has made commendable progress in advancing the creation of the Caribbean Single Market, resting on the five pillars of the free movement of goods, free movement of services, free movement of capital, free movement of skilled labour and the free movement of enterprises”.
He did accept, though, that progress on creating the single economy component “has not been as swift”, pointing out that “the issues involved are a little more complex and, understandably, require more thought and painstaking”.
“When I chaired the last meeting of the Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee on CSME in July in St. Lucia, it was the distinguished president of Guyana who highlighted the existence of not too latent fears in some member states of how a single economy might affect a status quo that is working for those member states right now,” Stuart recalled.
“There are legislative mechanisms to be put in place; institutional structures to be established, and, yes, fears to be exorcised. We are moving steadily along, always conscious of the benefits to be derived by our people but taking note also of valuable lessons to be learnt from elsewhere.”
He wanted people to remember, however, “that an economy, whether local or regional, is not an intellectual abstraction divorced from either the society or from the sectors which give it meaning and life”.
“Unless the sectors in the member states, under the watchful oversight of the 13 Heads of Government of the CARICOM quasi Cabinet, perform efficiently and satisfactorily, the prospects for a smoothly functioning Single Market and Single Economy will, to that extent, be placed in doubt,” he stated.
Despite the challenges, Stuart said “it is clear that a grievous error has befallen many of the publicists in the region when they evaluate the progress of the integration movement purely in terms of buying and selling, investing and saving, producing and consuming”.
The Prime Minister also recommitted Barbados “to the realisation of a fully functioning CSME within the regional integration movement”, saying this position “is both irrevocable and profound”. (SC)