Delegates at the 13th COFAP Meeting listen attentively as Secretary-General of CARICOM, Dr. Edwin Carrington (left), delivers his remarks.

The small economies of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) have virtually no option but to come together to take decisive and collective actions “to address not only their individual challenges but also to create an effective framework for joint economic decision-making”.

Secretary-General of CARICOM, Edwin Carrington, made this appeal today, at the opening of the thirteenth meeting of the Council for Planning and Finance (COFAP) at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

He told delegates that it was the moment in time for the council to provide “the vision, the measures and the leadership envisaged for it in the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas to steer the community through testing times onto a platform for a resilient and viable CARICOM Single Market and Economy”.

Mr. Carrington noted that the community agenda called for action by member states in respect of monetary and fiscal policy coordination; financial and capital market integration and for moving towards the creation of a common investment space. 

He suggested that other initiatives could be adopted, such as a meaningful and practical degree of currency convertibility as member states had committed themselves to in Article 44 (1)(c) of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.

“We can also move towards unifying the rules and regulations governing the operations of securities markets in the community. To achieve these initiatives, however, we need the private sector to join in playing a central role in what is essentially, the process of building the single economy,” the Secretary General observed.

In his brief remarks, Chairman of COFAP and Minister of Finance of the Republic of Suriname, Humphrey Hildenberg, warned that the global economic crisis could possibly slow down the pace of the CARICOM integration process.

“It is therefore of eminent importance that we as Ministers of Finance and Planning make all efforts to alleviate the negative effects of this crisis on our economies, so it will not delay the pace of our integration process. We must not lose sight of the fact that we need to advance the process we started off,” Mr. Hildenberg stressed.

He suggested that it might be necessary to evaluate the current position of the region and outline precisely the steps needed to achieve the most elementary form of integration, whilst setting new targets for the next steps.

“Let us do what we are able to do, taking into account the specific individual circumstances of our countries, but not to lose sight of the ultimate goal, the well-being of our peoples. The eyes of our constituencies are on us and there is a great expectancy in our countries of what we are doing,” the COFAP Chairman advised. 

Minister of Economic Affairs, Trade, Industry and Commerce, Dr. David Estwick also argued that the member states of CARICOM had a responsibility to their citizens to move towards convergence of their economies. He noted that the global crisis highlighted the necessity of moving the regional integration process forward.

Among the items on the agenda for discussion by delegates at the one-day meeting are: “Policy Implications for the CARICOM resulting from the Global Financial Crisis”; “Reducing Disparities in the Single Economic Space”; and “Initiatives Towards the Establishment of a Regional Credit Bureau”.

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