PM AND RELIGIOUS GROUPS DISCUSS CSME

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                                Chairman of the Religious Advisory Committee on National Affairs, Anglican Bishop Dr. John Holder, speaking at today’s meeting with Prime Minister Owen Arthur and members of religious faiths/organisations to discuss CSME.

The CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) was the focus of talks today when Prime Minister Owen Arthur met with members of religious faiths/organisations at the Sherbourne Conference Centre.

During his CSME presentation, Mr. Arthur, who has responsibility for ecclesiastical affairs, stressed that the church must always be engaged, particularly on issues driven by lifestyles.

“This country is facing change on a number of issues and there are some things that cannot just be solved by political power or the law. We have to engage the church on these matters and we have to do so on a sustained basis,” Mr. Arthur said.

Giving a detailed background on the evolution of the CSME, the Prime Minister stated that already there was evidence of the Single Market at work with the emergence of Pan Caribbean countries. He pointed out that work was being done to have the arrangements for a Single Economy agreed to by 2008 as well as for the development of protocols on functional cooperation including social rights and entitlement.

                                            A cross-section of religious leaders who attended the meeting with Prime Minister Owen Arthur and members of religious faiths/organisations to discuss CSME at the Sherbourne Conference Centre

Chairman of the Religious Advisory Committee on National Affairs, Anglican Bishop Dr. John Holder, described the CSME as “new and challenging”. He urged those of the religious fraternity to “step out in the new CSME arrangement guided by God’s command to love our neighbour.”

He opined that the two-hour long consultation had provided a greater understanding about the regional integration process. This would allow those who minister to offer their congregation greater insights into the CSME.

Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Joseph Atherley, disclosed that today’s proceedings came out of dialogue with the Religious Advisory Committee on National Affairs. The Committee meets each month and liaises bi-monthly with Reverend Atherley’s department.

Apart from the Anglican Bishop, the other members of the Committee are: Dr. Nigel Taylor of the Barbados Evangelical Association, Reverend Ophneil Forde of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the West Indies, Father Harcourt Blackett of the St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, Dr. Cecily Athill-Horsford of the Barbados Christian Council, Bishop Granville Williams of the Sons of God Apostolic Church, Reverend Eliseus Joseph of the Apostolic Teaching Centre and Mr. Suleiman Bulbulia of the Islamic Community.

Other religious representatives on the Committee are: Ras Carl “Iral” Trotman, Mr. Jacob Hassid, Ms. Grace Thompson, Mr. Kiffyn Simpson, Mr. Purushottam Tiwari and Pastor David Beckles.

The next time religious faiths/ organisations meet with Prime Minister Arthur they are expected to discuss the relationship between attitude / characters and management of change.

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