Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of Government will have the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) as their main focus when they begin their 39th Regular Meeting in Montego Bay, Jamaica on Wednesday.
In fact, an entire day of the three-day summit will be dedicated to the CSME. The Heads will be locked in discussion on the regional flagship programme on Thursday. They will also consider the Report of the Commission to Review Jamaica’s Relations within the CARICOM and CARIFORUM Frameworks, which also references the status of the CSME versus decisions that were taken to move the flagship programme forward.
Leading up to the Meeting of the Heads of Government, CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque held a consultation in Georgetown, Guyana, which sought stakeholder feedback on the CSME.
The forum was supported by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). It benefitted from inputs of the region’s private and public sectors and labour, and also pursued matters related to public education on the CSME and will provide some context for the discussions in Jamaica. The outcomes of the forum will be used to inform the review of the CSME being undertaken by the Heads of Government.
There was the consensus among stakeholders at the consultation that the CSME was critical to the sustainable development of CARICOM, but that implementation and buy-in by the populace were challenges. There was also concern about the disparities in economic development of member states which are participating in the CSME, as well as an acknowledgement that not all parties will benefit in the same way.
Some of the key recommendations of stakeholders at the consultation were: strengthening of The Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas to better serve disadvantaged countries, regions and sectors; revisiting the governance structure of the CSME; an restructuring of the CARICOM Secretariat. The stakeholders also observed that the implementation of member States’ obligations under the CSME is uneven, there is an absence of valid reasons for non-implementation of decisions on the CSME, and that CSME decisions appear to be in conflict with national/political interests/imperatives.
These are among the matters that will inform the discussions the Heads of Government will have when they devote their time to the CSME.
The leaders’ packed agenda also includes discussions on disaster management and building resilience in the region.
When they meet in caucus, they will examine security and border issues; relations between Belize and Guatemala; and Guyana and Venezuela; matters related to the Caribbean Court of Justice, including the CCJ’s Pensions Rules 2017; and the constitutional relationship of the Overseas Territories and the United Kingdom.
The Conference will welcome its newest member, Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley, who was elected to office following the country’s May 24 general elections and who has lead responsibility for CSME. Also returning are Prime Ministers Dr Keith Mitchell of Grenada and Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda who were re-elected to office following general elections held in March this year. Those three leaders, along with the outgoing Chairman of the Conference, President Jovenel Moise of Haiti; the incoming Chairman, Prime Minister Andrew Holness of Jamiaca; and the CARICOM Secretary-General will address the opening ceremony.
The Heads of Government Summit will be preceded by a Meeting of the Council for Finance and Planning (COFAP) and the swearing in of the President of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Justice Adrian Saunders, who replaces Sir Dennis Byron.