GINA, GUYANA, Friday, February 17, 2017
The Twenty-Eighth Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of Government wrapped up this evening, following two days of intense discussions on issues such as the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), crime and security and correspondent banking.
Reflecting on the conference’s deliberations at a press briefing at the Marriott Hotel in Georgetown, CARICOM Chairman, and President David Granger dubbed the discussions successful, particularly in relation to moving the regional body towards its objectives.
The treatment of CARICOM citizens, the priority areas to be addressed under the CSME, and upping the fight against crime was among some of the issues resolved by the Heads coming out of the two -day discussions, President Granger reported.
President Granger said that during the course of the decisions, the Heads reflected on the importance of the “CARICOM ‘Brand’, and pride that they must have in our citizenship, citizenry and membership. Every citizen of this Community must count; every citizen of this Community has rights, and wherever our citizens find themselves, they have the right to be treated as Caribbean citizens,” President Granger said.
The Guyanese Leader said that the Heads agreed that there is no such thing as a ‘stateless person’ in the Community. “There should be no such occurrence as a citizen of a Caribbean state being treated as inferior in any jurisdiction in the Community,” the CARICOM Chairman said.
During the Twenty-Eighth Inter-Sessional Meeting, the CARICOM Heads received a review of the CSME. President Granger said that during this exercise, the matter of the free movement of skilled persons was ventilated. He said whilst the CARICOM Heads commended the significant progress in the implementation of the CSME, they agreed that there are still several priority areas to be addressed, and these include the challenges of payments for goods and services traded in the region, and the protocol and procedures relating to the facilitation of travel.
The Heads also continued to voice their concerns over some of their previous decisions which have not been complied with, and agreed that the necessary action will be taken to effect compliance.
President Granger said that in this regard, the Heads agreed for the relevant ministerial councils and bodies to meet, and to treat with these concerns.
Meanwhile, the level of crimes within the community was deemed unacceptable by the CARICOM Heads, President Granger said. The Heads resolved to do more to curb the scourge including placing greater focus on the deterrence of crime, especially among youth. He said that the Heads agreed that “Our Attorney Generals and the Minister responsible for Legal Affairs would take actions to finalise agreements which is essential to the implementation of the regional crime and security agenda. We would also be seeking to take full advantage of the opportunity for capacity building towards addressing emerging threats including those relating to cyber-security, and cyber-crime, crime prevention and drug reduction,” President Granger said.
With regard to correspondent banking, the conference recognised the need for a regional approach and continued concerted actions to address effectively challenges posed by de-risking.
During the conference, the CARICOM Heads also resolved to strengthen the integrity of the financial sector in CARICOM member states, and to attenuate the perception of the Caribbean as a high risk region. They considered an action plan submitted by the Central Bank governors on the issue and asked the Committee of Ministers of Finance to assume the responsibility of its roll-out.
A Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) proposal on regional tourism and preparations for the Caribbean Festival of Arts (CARIFESTA) were also considered at the CARICOM Heads meeting.
President Granger was joined at the press briefing by Secretary General of CARICOM Irwin LaRocque and incoming Chairman and Prime Minister of Grenada, Keith Mitchell.
By: Macalia Santos