By Julie Carrington
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (BGIS) -- Prime minister of Barbados, Freundel Stuart, has sent a clear message that the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Single Market and Economy (CSME) is still a "front burner" issue despite significant hurdles encountered along the way to its full implementation.
Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart
In an attempt to silence the naysayers on the integration project, he told an audience at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus (UWI) recently that, despite significant hurdles, some progress has been made.
While delivering the UWI Distinguished Alumni Lecture on the topic: The Global Crisis: An Opportunity for Collaboration and Cohesion Between CARICOM Member States, Stuart said some people had wrongly predicted the demise of the CSME and pointed out that the movement had remained one of the most effective means of developing, protecting and promoting the regional economic space in an increasingly complex global economic environment.
"Within this context of its being another mechanism for bringing people closer, Barbados' commitment to the realisation of a fully functioning CSME within the regional integration movement is both irrevocable and profund. The region has made commendable progress in advancing the creation of the CSME, resting on the five pillars of the free movement of goods, services, capital, skilled labour and the free movement of enterprises," he surmised.
Acknowledging that the creation of the single economy had not been as swift, the prime minister pointed out that the issues involved were a little more complex, and, understandably, required more thought.
"When I chaired the last meeting of the Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee on CSME in July in St Lucia, it was the distinguished president of Guyana who highlighted the existence of not too latent fears in some member states of how a single economy might affect a status quo that is working for those member states right now," Stuart recalled.
He further stated: "There are legislative mechanisms to be put in place; institutional structures to be established and, yes, fears to be exorcised. We are moving steadily along, always conscious of the benefits to be derived by our people but, taking note also, of valuable lessons to be learnt from elsewhere."
However, Stuart cautioned that unless the sectors in the member states, under the watchful oversight of the 13 heads of government of the CARICOM quasi Cabinet perform efficiently and satisfactorily, "the prospects for a smoothly functioning Single Market and Economy will, to that extent, be placed in doubt".
Despite the challenges, the prime minister said: "It is clear that a grievous error has befallen many of the publicists in the region when they evaluated the progress of the integration movement purely in terms of buying and selling, investing and saving, producing and consuming."