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Governments urged to get their acts together

Governments urged to get their acts together

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As the date for the implementation of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) counts down, a call has been made to the region’s governments to get their acts together.
In a SEARCHLIGHT exclusive, Shantal Monroe Knight, a senior programme officer at the Caribbean Policy Development Centre (CPDC), called for more intensified educational programmes and public awareness campaigns of the benefits and the rights of people under the CSME. {{more}}
By December 2005 the CSME will officially come on stream, but Monroe said there are still hovering doubts in lots of minds as to what the CSME means and what impact it’s going to have on them. And she blames the governments in a big way for this.
“Governments need to really get their acts together in terms of implementing the treaty that they themselves put together,” Monroe said.
It is Monroe’s view that the message currently carried on the CSME is conflicting.
She said on one hand there is the assumption that the CSME is about everyone being able to participate and benefit from the process, but there is another side that suggests that the CSME has been designed for business persons.
“To me, those are two very conflicting views, two very conflicting perspectives. I think we need to clearly examine what it is that we are saying about the CSME, who exactly it is for, how it will work and how it will benefit the different groups that we have,” Monroe explained.
Monroe is very critical of the drive currently executed by the governments of the region in relation to sensitising people about the CSME.
“There hasn’t to me been a good public awareness campaign in terms of educating people and really making them aware of their rights under the CSME.
“If you don’t know your rights, if you don’t have a really good understanding, how will you be responsive in utilising those rights to prevent the sort of confusion and frustration that may result?” Monroe questioned.
“We talk about it as if it is supposed to be for university graduates and sports persons initially… What does that exactly mean? Does it mean because I am a university graduate I can turn up wherever and say that I am a university graduate and I’m here for work so give me work?” Monroe questioned rhetorically.
“Even if you look at the issue of the free movement of people, free movement of labour. I’m not so sure that people understand exactly what is that.”
Monroe was also critical of the fact that more efforts are concentrated on promoting the single market and not the economy.
“Our ministers have not yet clearly defined or articulated what will happen or when this economy will be coming into play. Even in that there is conflict,” Monroe warns.
She said it is important for us as a region to understand if we cannot operate within the CSME it is going to be very hard for us to think we will be able compete on the hemispheric stage and on the international stage with the World Trade Organisation.
“If we are supposed to be a part of the Free Trade Area of the Americas and can’t get our own CSME operational and this is just for the region, how then are we going to operate within the Free Trade Area?” Monroe asked.
She is warning that it is going to be extremely hard for people to have confidence in the movement if the Ministers and Governments are not doing what it is they are supposed to be doing and fulfilling their deadlines and obligations.
While here on a two-day trip with WINFA on May 20-21 Monroe held consultations with farmers in the North Central Windward Constituency where she used the opportunity to educate constituents there about the CSME and other trade issues.

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