Coming up with solutions to the socio-economic problems that are facing CARICOM member states, including Barbados, will be ???a work in progress???.

However, through the recommendations of the recently-established Commission on the Economy, concrete measures are being found.

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart made this assertion on Wednesday, as he spoke with members of the media on the margins of the 35th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), as it entered the first day of its business session at the Sandals Grande Resort in Antigua.

The Commission, which is chaired by Barbados??? Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, Senator Darcy Boyce, presented a report to Heads of Government for discussion.

Mr. Stuart noted that as part of the implementation process for CARICOM, the Commission???s findings have to be presented to the Council of Finance and Planning, (COFAP), which held its meeting on Tuesday, July 1. The Council comprises CARICOM finance ministers and Central Bank governors, among others.

However, he explained that due to a lack of a quorum at the COFAP meeting, no specific recommendations coming out of that report could be made to Heads of Government.

???The procedure is that COFAP meets and discusses these things, with specific recommendations [being given] to Heads of Government. That meeting yesterday (July 1) did not have a quorum, so they had general discussions on the report, and the report, therefore, was presented to Heads today (July 2). The Commission on the Economy was advised to continue its work until we can get specific recommendations coming from the Council of Finance and Planning,??? he stated.

In spite of this, he gave the assurance that in the very near future, the Commission hoped to come up with a ???body of concrete proposals??? that would tackle ???some of the very daunting challenges with which the region has been confronted ever since the global economic crisis, from the last quarter of 2007, but primarily from 2008???.

Giving an overview of some of the region???s challenges, Mr. Stuart described them as: ???All the issues related to fiscal imbalance, to unemployment, to the very anaemic, sometimes non-existent growth in the region, [which is] the story across the region. With the exception of Trinidad and Tobago, for obvious reasons, the story is the same, and, therefore, we are all groping for answers to the same problems.

???So, the Committee continues its work under Barbados??? chairmanship and Senator Darcy Boyce has been commended for the work that he has been doing, [and] the quality of reporting that has been coming from the Commission on the Economy,??? he stated.

The Commission on the Economy presented its first report to the CARICOM Heads of Government Inter-Sessional Meeting in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in March this year.

cathy.lashley@barbados.gov.bb

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