JIS News

Prime Minister of Barbados and Chairman of the Caricom sub-committee on the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME), Owen Arthur, is expressing confidence that the region is on track for implementation of the single economy in 2008.
Speaking yesterday (February 6), at a press briefing, following the joint meeting of the Caricom Prime Ministerial sub-committees on External Negotiations and the CSME, held at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Montego Bay, Mr. Arthur said the deadline could be met by having the framework for the single economy for the region approved by the Heads of Government and ready for implementation, beginning in 2008.
He pointed out that there was an implementation schedule in place, and things that straddle both external negotiations and the single economy must be given regional prominence. He pointed to the need for a regional investment code, coupled with the regional negotiating machinery.
“The timetable for the single economy takes all these things into account, because it recognizes that a single economy must not only be based upon what we agree to here, but must be set in the context of the mastery of our international economic relations,” he said.
He suggested that when the single economy is implemented, the Caricom Prime Ministerial sub-committees must be reconstituted, giving Prime Ministers responsibility for sectors and not having sub-committees being led by a Prime Minister of a certain country. “I am therefore very pleased as to where we are in the process,” he said.
The Prime Minister pointed out that his sub-committee, which deals with the Single Market and Economy, has met the deadlines set by the regional Heads of Government, and a report prepared for ratification by the Heads has met the mandate set, that of outlining the wish of the whole Caribbean society.
“In today’s world, I know that there is a lot of skepticism of what we are doing with the CSME. There are some people who seem to feel also that we should hop out and perhaps not pursue it..but already there are companies that are benefiting from the single market alone,” he said.
Mr. Arthur said that for Barbados, the creation of the single market has led to an expansion of exports within the single market, adding that some Barbadian companies were already making plans for expansion. He said the same was happening across the region, leading to the setting up of a number of pan-Caribbean companies.
Chairman of Caricom, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Ralph Gonzalves, in his address at the press briefing, pleaded for support of the regional integration process. He argued that no individual could say that he or she was worst off because of Caricom and the Caribbean Single Market. “We are all better off as a region,” he declared.