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Minister of Foreign Affairs & Foreign Trade, Senator Anthony Hylton, has said that in light of geo-political climate and rising energy bills, the Caribbean region, especially members of the Caribbean Single Market (CSM), should move expeditiously to establish the regional energy policy.
Speaking of the impending policy, Minister Hylton said “it underpins the construction of a single economic space, as is the objective of the CSM, and operates as an equal protection clause”.
The Minister was addressing the opening session of the Eighth Meeting of the Task Force on the Regional Energy Policy, at the Hilton Kingston Hotel today (October 17).
He said the Regional Task Force on Energy Policy was established in 2003 during an intercessional meeting which was called among regional Heads of Government, adding that now was an appropriate time for establishing the regional energy policy as, for the first time in the region’s history, “petroleum prices have exceeded US$76 per barrel”.
Whereas co-operation with oil rich states outside of the region has been beneficial, Minister Hilton said it was crucial that CARICOM states establish their own energy policy.
The Minister said the intercessional meeting towards the consolidated energy policy, “highlighted the importance of a regional policy, in light of the role of energy, particularly in a global environment. The expectation was that Heads of Government would have had a draft energy policy at the 2005 meeting”.
“The Heads of Government have directed this Task Force to examine the elements of the regional energy situation, and to address, among other things, issues relating to energy supplies, energy pricing policy and its impact on competitiveness within the CSME and the necessity of a common external tariff as it applies to energy products,” he added.
In the meantime, CARICOM Chairman for the Task Force on the Regional Energy Policy, Andrew Jupiter, said the group had made strides since its inception three years ago.
“The approach of the Task Force has been consensual, all inclusive and participatory, incorporating not only the views of the state, but also sought and included the regional private sector as well as the United States Department of Energy,” Mr. Jupiter said.
He pointed out that a preliminary draft policy document has been completed and submitted to members of the Task Force for their review.
“Despite these accomplishments, the work of the Task Force is far from over.the fact today [is] that it has become even more critical that the Task Force deliver on its mandate,” Mr. Jupiter said.