CARICOM leaders put ‘Single Economy’ on hold

GEORGETOWN: Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders say achieving the Single Economy aspect of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) will take more time than expected. As a result, they will focus on the Single Market in the meantime.

The decision was made during a retreat in Guyana that ended last Sunday, which was attended by the leaders of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, along with Suriname’s Vice President and a representative from St. Lucia.

The aim was to have the Single Economy in effect by 2015, but the leaders said in a statement issued at the conclusion of the retreat that they recognized that “the process towards full implementation would take longer than anticipated and agreed it may be best to pause and consolidate the gains of the Single Market before taking any further action on certain specific elements of the Single Economy, such as the creation of a single currency”.

They said they’ve rededicated themselves to achieving tangible results from the integration process with emphasis on job creation and improving the lives of the people of the Community.

“The Heads of Government emphasized the need to focus on building a greater sense of community and shared values as a Caribbean People and Society. They recognized that while the CSME provided a platform for attaining further economic development of the Community, its ultimate goal was to provide a better quality of life and greater prosperity for the Peoples of the Community,” the statement said.

“Against the background of new challenges which have emerged and the important trends of the future, they agreed to identify practical initiatives in specific economic areas which would redound to the benefit of the People of the Community, in the shortest possible time.”

On the current review of the CARICOM Secretariat, the leaders agreed that it “should take into account the strengthening of the institution to enable it to play an enhanced role in the area of mobilizing substantial resources for concrete projects in the areas identified”.

The restructuring should also allow the Secretariat to assist and advise Member States with implementation; offer greater technical advice and address its ability to provide practical deliverables in the immediate and long term, the leaders said.

In respect of governance, they reaffirmed the decision taken at their Inter-Sessional Meeting in Grenada in February to await the completion of the review of the Secretariat, before taking any firm decisions towards the establishment of the Permanent Committee of CARICOM Ambassadors.

Meanwhile, a new Secretary-General should be chosen in another two months, to replace Sir Edwin Carrington, who resigned at the end of last year.

Sir Edwin’s deputy, Ambassador Lolita Applewhaite, who also attended the retreat, is currently acting in the position.

“Having received a report from the Search Committee which they had established to identify a new Secretary-General, they agreed that the persons short-listed for the position would be subjected to further processes, with a view to taking a final decision by July 2011,” the statement said.

The Heads will convene in July, at their 32nd regular meeting in St. Kitts and Nevis. They said they would continue their dialogue on the way forward for CARICOM at that session.

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