Prime Minister of Barbados, Freundel Stuart, as he chaired the Seventh Meeting of the Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee on the CARICOM Single Market and Economy. Also pictured are (from left to right) Advisor on Regional Integration – CARICOM Secretariat, Desiree Field-Ridley; Programme Manager CSME Unit Barbados, Ivor Carryl; and Programme Manager Macro-Economic Unit – CARICOM Secretariat, Evelyn Wayne. (A. Gaskin/BGIS)

The Caribbean Community needs to forge ahead with implementing the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).

This was stated by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, following the Seventh Meeting of the Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee on the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), which was held today at the Bay Gardens Hotel in Castries, St. Lucia. Mr. Stuart chaired the meeting as lead Head with responsibility for the CSME.

Speaking to reporters following the session, Mr. Stuart said leaders discussed the current progress with respect to implementing the measures that were agreed to under the CSME. He noted that, as a project, the CSME had been engaging the region for some time and he pointed out that in the context of global economic development there had been introspection, with Heads of Government trying "to come to grips with the challenges posed by the global economic downturn.

"What came out of this meeting though, is a firm commitment to the CSME project, [and] it is conceded that we have some challenges to meet. We have not moved as quickly as we would have wished… There are some knotty problems which continue to bedevil us, but we must continue to wrestle them to the ground by doing some sensible prioritising.

"It is also conceded of course, that ultimately, whether we succeed or not, or whether we are perceived to have succeeded or not, whether the average man or woman moving through the Caribbean is experiencing the benefits of what we are doing, we could talk as much as we like about the rights of establishment and the movement of capital and the movement of services, [but] if when the average Caribbean citizen comes to a port of entry he gets problems with an immigration officer, or, for that matter with a customs officer, if he has some kind of unpleasant experience, and that becomes the news, [then] the entire CSME project is indicted on that basis."

Against this background, the Prime Minister stressed that Caribbean nations had "to get down to the basics" of having the CSME meet the expectations of the average man and woman in the Caribbean, and, he stressed, "that is being recognised by the meeting".

Mr. Stuart gave the assurance that he would be emphasising the importance of the CSME and the issues that are affecting the region at the Heads of Government summit over the next few days. "That is what I will be accentuating…, "he added.

Tomorrow, the 33rd Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community will commence in earnest at the Sandals Grande St. Lucian Spa and Beach Resort.


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