News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Feb. 26, 2021: It’s been 31-years since the official launch of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy, (CSME), but CARICOM leaders on Thursday were again expressing concern about the outstanding actions still required to advance its implementation.
The “concern” was expressed in the communique issued at the conclusion of the 32nd Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), February 24-25, 2021.
Heads of Government reaffirmed the critical role of the CSME in the region’s strategy for sustained economic growth, especially in the current pandemic era and to build economic resilience by developing the capacity to withstand both external and internal shocks to the Community.
They agreed to review urgently the entire consultation and decision-making processes at all levels in the effort to establish the most effective strategy for effecting increased levels of implementation.
They also agreed that an immediate step towards achieving implementation would be led by the Lead Head of Government with responsibility for the CSME, Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley.
Heads of Government also on Thursday, mandated the Council for Finance and Planning (COFAP) to meet urgently no later than end of March 2021, to resolve the outstanding issues and reach agreement with respect to the CARICOM Financial Services Agreement (CFSA), the Regional Securities Market, the Community Investment Policy and Credit Reporting.
And they urged the removal of non-tariff barriers to trade among Member States and the simplification of administrative procedures for free movement of people in order to boost economic output.
They also stressed the urgent need to address and resolve those critical issues that impede the benefits of the CSME being enjoyed by all, particularly the private sector on which the Region is depending to fuel the recovery of its economies and which needed to be fully engaged at both the national and regional levels.
The heads gathered also urged the Special Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED)-ICT to expedite the establishment of the Single ICT Space together with access to reduced roaming rates and enhanced access to broadband as well as to examine the feasibility of establishing a Single Regional Telecommunications Regulator for the consideration of the Forty-Second Meeting of the Conference in July 2021. This would be fundamental to advance the digital economy, they said.
CARICOM ECONOMIC RECOVERY AND TRANSFORMATION (CERT)
Meanwhile, the heads of government reiterated their call for a new allocation of Special Drawing Rights to boost global liquidity; the conversion of COVID-related debt into long-term, low-interest loans; and the use of a multi-dimensional universal vulnerability index and vulnerability criteria to determine access to concessional funding by small middle income States.
CARICOM Development Fund (CDF)
They also reiterated the important role of the CARICOM Development Fund (CDF) to the social and economic advancement of the Community. They noted that in the context of the dire fiscal, economic and social circumstances facing Member States arising from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CDF should be positioned to provide support to Member States’ post-pandemic recovery efforts.
Heads of Government therefore agreed to a further one-year extension to the CDF’s second contribution and subvention cycle to June 30, 2022.
They recognized the potential impact of funding shortfalls and protracted payment delays on Member States’ programs and the CDF’s liquidity, financial sustainability and capacity to fulfil its mandate.