Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne believes that the successful integration of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) cannot be accomplished without addressing the current vexing issues concerning transportation within the region.
Browne voiced his position on the subject while addressing yesterday’s opening ceremony for the Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM) 39th regular meeting of its conference of heads of government at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in Rose Hall, St James.
“In the context of the CSME, the single issue of regional transportation causes the greatest irritation to all our peoples. They are rightly infuriated at the high cost of travel in the region and the profound difficulties to direct travel between our countries, and most frustrated of all is our business community,” Browne told delegates attending the conference.
“Even if we solve all the technical issues that permeate the establishing of the CSME, we will achieve nothing unless we implement means to transport people and goods across the region,” Browne continued.
Joint effort needed
He noted that the responsibility of establishing reliable regional transportation must be a joint effort among various parties to include Caribbean leaders and the private sector.
“The leadership of our Caribbean community cannot continue to abdicate responsibility for ensuring the availability of reliable regional air and sea transportation. We cannot leave it to the private sector any more than the private sector can leave it to us,” said Browne.
“It is a joint responsibility that is a precondition of success for a single market in which our business community moves its goods and to the fundamental importance of linking Caribbean people together,” he added.
Two hundred foreign officials from across the Caribbean are attending the three-day conference, which is being chaired this year by Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness.