His Excellency Mr. David Comissiong, Ambassador of Barbados to CARICOM;
Ms. Andrea Power, Coordinator, Regional Cooperation and Integration of the Caribbean Development Bank;
Assistant Secretary General, Trade and Economic Integration, Mr. Joseph Cox and other CARICOM Secretariat staff;
Honourable Vance Amory, Senior Minister, St Kitts and Nevis;
Mr. Wayne Wesley, Registrar of the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC)
Representatives of Regional Organisations and Institutions;
Representatives of the Private and Public Sectors.
I thank you all for taking the time to be here this morning to be part of this Focus Group discussion on the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
I have always embraced the opportunity to engage with stakeholders and beneficiaries of our CSME arrangements as it allows for interaction among the principal participants in the Community’s major integration process.
This is not only about sharing information but also getting feedback from you.
I remain convinced that the CSME, along with the many other programmes that we have embarked on, be they human resource development, health, security, remains the best platform for achieving sustainable economic growth and development for our Member States.
It is the platform through which we must build international competitiveness and economic resilience for our Region.
The Heads of Government agreed to the convening of an annual Stakeholder Consultation on the CSME, in recognition of the need for constant stocktaking.
To give greater meaning to consultations, Heads of Government also agreed to recognise the Caribbean Congress of Labour and the CARICOM Private Sector Organisation as Associate Institutions of the Community.
Such an important process must have regular inputs from key stakeholders to ensure that what is developed is fit for purpose.
We must address the operations of the CSME and what needs to be done in order to make them more effective.
These consultations are expected to improve the decision-making process in the various Organs of the Community. The Organs must meet more regularly
These discussions would have to take into account the varying and sometimes competing views of stakeholders as we design the work programme for achieving the CSME.
This morning, you will receive an overview of the work that we are doing on the CSME. A lot of technical work is taking place. But I must confess that I am less than satisfied with its implementation. We have been asking ourselves what more can we do to facilitate implementation at the Member States level, whose capacity is severely constrained in the various areas of work.
And now I am asking how can you help us to bridge the implementation gap?
We need your help! You form part of the constituencies who must have a voice.
It is my hope that the views aired this morning would help in identifying the key priorityissues that must be addressed to ensure that we can implement and operate the CSME optimally.
The outcome of this session and the Town Hall Meeting this evening are intended to inform the discussions of the Conference of Heads of Government when it meets here in Barbados in February.
I look forward to free and frank discussions which will allow for meaningful and realistic recommendations to be put forward, as we strive together to make the CSME a lived and positive experience for the people of our Community.
In closing, let me thank the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) for partnering with us today and all of its assistance in various areas over the years. I also thank the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) for graciously hosting us this morning.