BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Friday January 20, 2017 – Barbados’ Prime Minister Freundel Stuart believes the time has come to have “full and frank discussions” on the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
Stuart, who is the lead CARICOM head with responsibility for CSME, expressed that view recently during a meeting at Ilaro Court with several CARICOM officials, led by Secretary-General Irwin LaRocque, even as he suggested that “we do not give ourselves enough credit for what we have achieved”.
“We have to look at what we have achieved; what remains to be achieved; what are the existing enabling features that can assist us in achieving; and what are the disabling features that can stand in the way. We have to see where our strengths, weaknesses and opportunities are, and be prepared to deal with any threats to the achievement of our objectives,” he said.
Prime Minister Stuart stressed that the CSME was a journey on which Caribbean governments had embarked, and not a destination.
“This will never be a destination where at some stage one can say that the labourer’s task is over. We tend to accentuate what has not happened when a lot has happened. I think we have made significant progress on the CARICOM Single Market and Economy,” he said.
“Free movement of people will never work perfectly in this imperfect world. We will always have these little challenges, but we should not allow random challenges to divert our attention from what we have achieved. We do not give ourselves enough credit for what we have achieved; we judge ourselves based on what we have not achieved.”
Stuart contended that a lot of work had already been done and that this region was more closely integrated today than at any other time in its history.
He assured that Barbados was committed to the CSME and gave the assurance that all would be done to realize its aspirational aspects.
“From its pursuit and realization, we cannot afford to retreat. Barbados believes the pursuit of this ideal can benefit the region,” he said.
Ambassador LaRocque agreed that there had been several achievements regarding the CSME, but said there was more work to be done.
He also concurred with Prime Minister Stuart that the time had come for the CARICOM Secretariat to do a thorough examination of the CSME.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Senator Maxine McClean; Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Senator Darcy Boyce; Barbados’ Ambassador to CARICOM Robert Morris; Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office Sonja Welch; and CARICOM’s Assistant Secretary-General, Trade and Economic Development, Joseph Cox were among the other officials who attended the two-and-a-half hour meeting that was held to update Stuart on the status of the implementation of the CSME, ahead of CARICOM Heads’ 28th Intersessional Meeting in Guyana next month.