Prime Minister David Thompson (right),??Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Baldwin Spencer (left) and the Opposition Leader of St. Lucia, Dr. Kenny Anthony, chat during a break in the??Connvocation on the CSME.
The CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) is not working perfectly and is also not above suspicion, but it is working.
This view was expressed today by Barbados’ Prime Minister, David Thompson, as he delivered the feature address at the opening ceremony of the Convocation on the CSME at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
Referring to a report of an appraisal conducted on the progress achieved by the 12 CSME Member States, Mr. Thompson said it indicated that the regimes for trade, capital and movement of persons were functioning under the Treaty.??
He stressed that countries within CARICOM had differing capacities, unique governance structures and there was no "one size fits all formula".
"To be brutally frank, varying levels of commitment and emphasis on specific initiatives bedevil implementation in a consistent and timely manner. Ultimately, we are dealing with individuals, individual states and also cultural and social nuances," the Prime Minister stated.
He revealed that one of the findings of the Secretariat concerned the difference between the expressed commitment and full access to the rights expressed in the Revised Treaty.
Mr. Thompson said that this, along with other findings, suggested a capacity and communication deficit which regional governments needed to address, as a matter of priority, to ensure that obligations under the CSME were met.
"I raise these matters here because I believe this capacity constraint, and not disinterest in the CSME, is responsible for any examples of irregular application of the provisions across the Community.
"This is not to suggest that we are not to be held accountable for the failings, real or perceived, but rather to point us all to this key area for immediate attention," he noted.
The Prime Minister pointed out that the CSME was the region’s main tool of regional development and had to be refined to ensure it delivered on CARICOM’s goals.
He lamented the fact that the capacity constraints had been compounded by the sudden financial crisis, which engulfed the major economies of the world some 18 months ago.
"It is expected that each state will be preoccupied with national crisis management. That is why an even greater effort will be required to keep our CSME project on course.
"The integration of our 12 states has presented tensions and we must not ignore them. Not only do we have domestic priorities, which arise from the confluence of national and global developments, but the harmonisation of policies. Also, across key sectors of our economies, the Single Market has challenged the national economic systems," Mr. Thompson said.??????????
With respect to the movement of people, the Prime Minister observed that it had "elicited vigorous responses from the length and breadth of our Community". He added: "And, it should excite debate as an effective Single Economy can only exist with the movement of its people. We must, however, be careful not to allow the excitement associated with a declaration of free movement of people – a principle to which we all ultimately agree – to eclipse the matter of balanced regional development."