Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller (third left) in discussion with colonel of the Accompong Maroons in St. Elizabeth, Ferron Williams (right, partially hidden), at the Maroon Conference 2012, on Friday. Simpson Miller delivered the keynote address.

KINGSTON — Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has reaffirmed her government’s commitment to regional integration.

Speaking at the closing ceremony of the 50/50: Critical Reflections In a Time of Uncertainty conference, hosted by the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute for Social and Economic Studies at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston, Simpson Miller said that there was much more that needed to be done for regional integration and co-operation.

“Our approach should be to strengthen and build on those regional institutions which are already in place,” she suggested.

“At the same time, we should use the achievements of individual nations to benchmark best practices to which all countries in the region may aspire,” she added.

She said that there were isolated incidents which had stalled the regional efforts at co-operation and collaboration, but although problems will arise from time to time, the extent of their impact should be determined by the will and commitment to regional integration.

Describing herself as “a committed regionalist”, Simpson Miller said that she intended to do everything within her power to build on the achievements to date, “in order to make the next 50 years a period that will bring increasingly improved social and economic conditions for our Caribbean people”.

She suggested three concrete steps to regional integration, which Caribbean Community governments must take quickly to demonstrate their commitment to the effort:

They are:

* Strengthening regional integration and collaboration in the area of air transportation so that, for example, regional entrepreneurs do not find it easier to meet in Miami to discuss business proposals than meeting in Jamaica;

* Commit to action, and not just words, to the free movement of qualified professionals within the region; and

* Commit to the ratification of the Caribbean Court of Justice as the region’s final court of appeal. (Observer)

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