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Tangible benefits - Holness says CARICOM chairmanship will produce advantages

Published:Thursday | July 5, 2018 | 12:00 AMEdmond Campbell/ Senior Staff Reporter
Prime Minister Andrew Holness greets Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel at the 39th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre July 4 - 6, 2018.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness wants the people across the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to feel the effects of the regional body during his tenure as chairman.

Some of the ways, he said, in which the people of the region could feel the effects of CARICOM are by increased trade in products; movement of people, including movement of skilled labour; and movement of capital.

"These issues which we have dithered on and we have been ambivalent about for a long time, we will be pushing to get them done. That is what we consider to be the single market. So our emphasis now is on actually creating a single market," Holness told The Gleaner during an interview at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, where the 39th Regular Meeting of the CARICOM Heads of Government is being held.

"There is discussion about a single economy. It's a lofty idea, still good in principle, but it will take time for us to have coordinated fiscal policy and monetary policy.

"We are not there yet, but I believe we can have coordinated regulatory space, coordinated trade space, and a coordinated movement of our peoples, and that's where we are focusing our efforts in a practical way," Holness added.

The prime minister said further that the community must set timelines and recommit to doing things that are practical so that the people of all the countries in the organisation could feel CARICOM.

On Wednesday, Holness argued that the Caribbean Single Market and Economy was the ultimate manifestation of regional integra-tion, noting that some of its pillars represent the only vehicles by which Caribbean nationals would experience the process.

"We must therefore, as leaders of this great community, relentlessly pursue the goal of overcoming our implementation deficit," said Holness while addressing Heads of Government at the opening ceremony at the conference.

"It is my considered view that the single market is a victim of our own reluctance to fully and functionally establish it," Holness conceded.