The 15 Heads of Government of CARICOM have all renewed their commitment to work towards the realisation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
This is according to Chair of the Community, President David Granger. He made the statement following a caucus on day one of the 28th Inter-session Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government being held in Georgetown.
“There’s a renewed commitment on the part of Heads of Governments, particularly to the economic infrastructure of the community and the CSME.”
President Granger told reporters that it has been realised that there is need for the regional bloc to move further and much faster, given the fact that the Caribbean is existing in an environment of economic turmoil.
He said that many of the region’s commodities and services have seen depressed prices in the international markets over the last 2 years and this underscores the need for CSME to be fully activated to ensure that people of the region have a better life.
“We are one community we feel the faster we move towards CSME, the better for all of us” he said.
The Chairman explained too that there is also concerns about food security in the region and it was made known that this could be achieved by producing all commodities needed on a day to day basis in the region. To support the realization of this, he added, is the fact that the region has three mainland countries – Guyana, Suriname and Belize – which have landmass bigger than Germany.
Discussed on day one of the meeting too, was the issue of correspondent banking, which CARICOM has made little progress in addressing.
The President noted that this issue has been a front burner one for several years and the Caribbean will be taking a joint approach to it.
“De-risking has hurt some Caribbean economies, some more than others. It is quite unfair because there has not been a single case where any jurisdiction or bank or any banking institution has been shown to have been involved in money laundering or any improprieties. So the entire approach has been baffling” he said.
However, the regional grouping remains optimistic that collective action would empower the region to engage some of the banks from the developed countries to take a more favourable approach towards the plights of the small island states which the Chair said have not contravene any laws.
Earlier this week CARICOM’s Secretary General Irwin LaRocque reported to the media that the Community has been able to engage international financial institutions such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and other institutions. When asked what the response have been from these institutions, LaRocque said that CARICOM is awaiting same.
Meanwhile, crime and security was also featured on the agenda for day one, and it was recognized by leaders that it is difficult for individual states to tackle this issue with limited population and resources, and this necessitates the need for collaboration with regional counterparts.