BASSETERRE, St Kitts — Heads of government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) are committed to deliver a competitive transportation industry, and are looking for the right model that would be fiscally appropriate for the provision of air transportation services in the region.
CARICOM leaders had extensive discussions on regional transportation during their two-day intersessional meeting in St Kitts and Nevis last month. Transportation was a main item on their agenda. The talks were preceded by a one-day special meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) in St Vincent and the Grenadines earlier in February.
One of the steps the heads of government have agreed to is to look at charges and tax structures that could have a negative effect on the provision of air services with a view to rationalising those structures as deemed appropriate by the ministries of finance of member states.
There is also movement on the Multilateral Air Services Agreement (MASA) to which nine CARICOM member states have now signed on to, thus allowing for its provision application. One country has ratified the MASA. Assent by all member states to the MASA would give effect to the community becoming a liberalised environment for CARICOM air carriers. The MASA was opened for signature in February 2018.
There was also discussion on a regional ferry service as emphasis was being placed on improving work in the maritime area. Heads of CARICOM agreed to establish a joint private and public sector team to review the findings and recommendations of reports on the ferry service.
The team has been requested to provide preliminary estimates for the implementation of a ferry services following discussions and negotiations with prospective ferry operators, according to the communique of the meeting. The communique added that heads of government agreed that the directors of maritime affairs of each member state should meet regularly with the intention of coordinating and presenting a holistic approach to addressing the maritime safety and security issues of the Community.