CARICOM putting muscle behind projects, targets – Mottley
BRIDGETOWN (Barbados Nation):
PRIME MINISTER MIA AMOR MOTTLEY last night hailed the 31st Inter-Sessional CARICOM Heads of Government meeting as one of the most productive ever to be held by member states.
The two-day meeting at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre ended with the Barbadian leader and new CARICOM chairman revealing that a number of agreements had been signed and important reports spanning telecommunications, crime and violence, food security, and climate change presented.
Mottley said the CARICOM Single Market and Economy would come in for special attention over the next few months.
“We’ve asked Prime Minister (Roosevelt) Skerrit, who has a lead role for the free movement of people, to bring back up a review of all of the processes to further simplify how people move, and whether there should be further categories of persons who should be allowed to move, and to ensure there is a wider pool of people who can move,” she said at the wrap-up press conference.
Skeritt announced that a special fact-finding mission would be heading to Haiti in May to gather information on its social and political issues to give CARICOM a better picture of what was required to shift the country on to a development path.
Mottley added that member states also took a very comprehensive report from regional private-sector organisations and the Caribbean Congress of Labour.
“We gave them a task to look at production in food security, renewable energy, air and maritime transport, and information and communications technology. The report that came sets out a pathway for us to be able to work towards substituting 25 per cent of our food import bill, which stands at US$5 billion. We want to do that in the next five years,” the chairman suggested.
She added that the private sector grouping had a clear plan they wanted to implement, with a target of saving the Caribbean US$420 million, and also had the potential to earn foreign exchange outside the region.
“We believe that if we stay the course, the people of the region will see in the next few years a Caribbean that is willing to feed itself more.”
That plan, when completed, would be presented to CARICOM’s Prime Ministerial Subcommittee.
Mottley said the Caribbean Development Fund would also garner special attention, so money could become available to disadvantaged countries.