Addressing the 39th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government, which opened on 4 July in Montego Bay, Jamaica Mottley who was elected in a landslide election in May, reminded heads of government of the “purpose and passion” of the integration movement.
Stating that the purpose and passion was the people, she cautioned that they, particularly the young ones, would not wait around for much longer for results. Time is “running out”, she said.
The Prime Minister singled out a number of areas for immediate action, including the single domestic space for hassle free intra-regional travel.
“The Single domestic space for hassle intra-regional travel must be a place where we must start if we are serious about the single market and the single economy, [and] It must be the place if we want the buy-in of our citizens”, she said.
In this vein she reported on her government’s decision to enact legislation to remove the visa requirements for Haitians travelling to Barbados, which she said was in violation of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.
She referred to the architecture that underpinned the Community’s arrangements for hosting the 2007 World Cup Cricket: "The arrangements not only allowed hassle free travel in the ten countries, but also ensured that any security concerns could be addressed. She pointed out likewise, that the joint regional communications centre allowed the Region to have an advance passenger information system, making “[it] the first region in the world to vet information against INTERPOL”.
The Prime Minster called for greater information flows to enable the people to understand what was done and is being done.
“In the same way [that] we speak to our people through this open ceremony in a speech, our conversations among ourselves in plenary (not in caucus) ought not now to be the subject of instant streaming and broadcast?”
“I believe that if we were to do so, many of the things that people relate to and restrict to only economic and trade issues would, all of a sudden, [be] recognised are also about building a civilisation that is premised on the development and well-being of our people”.
“What is needed is for us to foster the genuine buy-in of our people, especially our young people. To do so we would have to first recognise [that] in 2018 we have [a] constituency of integrationists by intuition and beliefs. A generation of educated, worldly wise, confident Caribbean citizens who learn, live and love together; trade, work, and play together… No boundaries exist in the minds of our young people”, she asserted.
The Prime Minister noted that a single domestic space for hassle free travel presupposes a single domestic space for transportation.
To this end she charged her fellow Heads to address the concerns related to the regional airlines LIAT and Caribbean Airways, asserting that the Region "could do better with respect to moving people between island to island and country to country", in 2018.
She echoed the sentiments expressed by Antigua's Prime Minister Gaston Browne, who said: "If we are to manifest our seriousness about a single market, and if we are to convince the Caribbean people that Caribbean integration is real, we must act to establish effective regional transportation, even at the cost of a subsidy in the early stages."
"The leadership of our Caribbean Community cannot continue to abdicate responsibility for ensuring the availability of reliable and regional air and sea transportation. We cannot leave it to the private sector any more than the privater sector can leave it to us."
"It is a joint responsibility that is a precondition of success for a single market in which our business community move its goods, and to the findamental importance of linking the Caribbean peoples together," Browne said.
- Countries: Barbados