Mon | Oct 23, 2017

CARICOM 38 | Regional summit ends with unified stance on Venezuela

Published:Thursday | July 6, 2017 | 8:20 PMJovan Johnson
Prime Minister of Grenada Keith Mitchell
Prime Minister of Jamaica Andrew Holness
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The Grenada meeting of CARICOM leaders has ended with declared 'unity' on the approach to the Venezuela issue, agreement on an implementation timeline for outstanding free movement issues, as well as threats that taxes could be hiked to respond to the epidemic of non-communicable diseases.

CARICOM Chairman Dr Keith Mitchell officially disclosed the decisions during a press conference this evening in St George's where 13 leaders met to tackle regional issues. 

News had filtered throughout today's final day long before Mitchell confirmed that he had been mandated to write to Venezuela's president, Nicolas Maduro, and the opposition, proposing the region's mission team to help mediate. 

"CARICOM heads of government call for all parties to commit to engage in a renewed dialogue and negotiation leading to comprehensive political agreement with established timetables, concrete actions and guarantees to ensure its implementation," Mitchell told journalists in Grand Anse, St George's.

“CARICOM heads of government offer their good offices to facilitate this dialogue.”

Earlier today, Vincentian leader, Dr Ralph Gonsalves said 'differences' still existed.

According to the Grenadian prime minister, the meeting, which started Tuesday with 13 leaders and dropped to five before the final session ended this evening, was 'successful'. 

Prime Minister Andrew Holness confirmed during the press conference that Jamaica would be hosting the next CARICOM heads of government conference in July next year when he will also become chairman. 

WHAT CARICOM AGREED ON: 

- An implementation plan for the outstanding measures with respect to the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) after identifying the roadblocks which have hindered progress.

- Support in principle for the creation of an independent public-private sector governing body to guide the development and management of a sustained regional tourism marketing and public relations effort.

- Implementation measures to facilitate ease of travel in the region and mandate for Government-owned airlines to continue to work towards increasing their level of collaboration and coordination.

- Plan to to address the issue of the multi-layered regime of aviation taxes within the context of an appropriate mechanism for the financing of civil aviation-related activities. Request for Caribbean Development Bank to finance a study on the impact of aviation taxes on the economies of member states.

- Approval of Human Resource Development 2030 Strategy along with an action plan which was designed by a commission established in 2015.

- Re-iteration of determination to curb the ravages of non-cummunicable diseases like diabetes through legislation and intensified public education activities. 

- Endorsement for approval of the regional plan for statistics. The Region Strategy for development of Statistics is to respond to the statistical needs of the CARICOM development agenda and support research and policy imperatives.

jovan.johnson@gleanerjm.com