Meeting To Be Held In July 2011
Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
June 02, 2011
The agenda has been set by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Council of Ministers for the Thirty-Second Regular Meeting of CARICOM Heads scheduled for St. Kitts and Nevis in July, which will be chaired by St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas.
The Twenty-Eight meeting of the CARICOM Council of Ministers saw economic integration, free trade and movement of persons, foreign policy coordination human and social development meeting and security cooperation consideration on the roster of issues to be appraised.
Speaking to members of the press at CARICOM headquarters on Wednesday afternoon, Grenadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade, Export Development and the Environment, Hon. Karl Hood said many of the issues tabled are of relevance to the community and follow requests made by leaders at their last retreat at Teperu Mazaruni, Region Seven.
He said security of the people in the region continues to be among the priority topics that require fast tracking including the development of a regional health agency in the name of CAPA (Caribbean Public Health Agency), the implementation of which awaits the signature of all countries. It is hoped that all CARICOM Heads will affix their signatures as many have already done.
Minister Hood said consideration has also been given to supporting the crisis stricken island of Haiti, through a waiver of levy requirements on trade and visa requirements for national nationals. Asked about his predictions about the issue of integration making headway at the upcoming CARICOM Heads meeting, Minister Hood acknowledged that its full implementation has been lacking in some regard even though its importance is fully known.
“We do have some measure of freedom at this point in time. Some of our countries have to bring their laws into line with what we are trying to do and that process has been a bit slow but it is coming on more and more” Minister Hood said.
During the two-day CARICOM Heads retreat leaders recognised that the process towards full implementation of the single economy would take longer than anticipated and as a result agreed to pause and consolidate the gains of the Single Market before taking any further action on certain specific elements of the Single Economy, such as the creation of a single currency.
Nevertheless, the leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the movement of skilled community nationals and all the related decisions previously taken in that regard. Recalling their mandate to the Inter-Governmental Task Force to negotiate a Protocol on Contingent Rights in respect of those rights which were agreed, they underscored the need for certainty and transparency in according such rights.
Minister Hood told the media that the ultimate objective is to realize the dream of a Caribbean that affords residents the right to move freely but believes that the uniqueness of some member states would cause views and perspectives on the issue to differ.
“One country may feel that we don’t want to go that was too fast and another country would say “˜yes we need to go,’ so it has taken quite a lot of diplomacy and working out to come to some agreement” Minister Hood said.
Passionate about the implementation of the integration within the region President Jagdeo remarked at the opening ceremony of the 30th CARICOM Heads of Government Conference that “if we are to remain apace and compete in today’s world, we must also be extremely vigilant in preserving popular faith in the cause of our integration effort.”