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Regional stakeholders attend CSME meeting

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If there was any doubt that unity is needed in the Caribbean, the much talked of global financial crisis should remove all uncertainty.{{more}}

“If we were more integrated…if we had true Caribbean integration, the impact of the global financial crisis will be less felt on each and every citizen,” declared Minister of Telecommunications Dr Jerrol Thompson last Monday, May 4th.

Dr Thompson deputized for Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sir Louis Straker and delivered the feature address at the opening ceremony of the first in a series of four multi-stakeholder reading programmes, geared at sensitizing the Vincentain populace about the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME).

Dr Thompson said that the global financial crisis was a reminder that Caribbean Community (CARICOM) nations must work together to combat the challenges that they face in this open economy.

He referred the push towards integration thus far as a “long, slow, but steady process” and lamented that nationalistic insularity is still affecting the thrust towards deeper integration.

Meanwhile, head of CARICOM’s Barbados based CSME Unit, Ivor Carryl also made it clear that the push towards the full implementation of the arrangements of CSME is intended to “strengthen CARICOM to respond” to the global environment.

He recalled that it was the trying times that CARICOM nations faced in the 1980s and their inability to deal with the challenges on their own that led to the pivotal 1989 declaration at the 10th Heads of Government meeting at Grand Anse, in Grenada.

“At this our Tenth Meeting here in Grenada, we, the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community inspired by the spirit of cooperation and solidarity among us are moved by the need to work expeditiously together to deepen the integration process and strengthen the Caribbean Community in all of its dimensions to respond to the challenges and opportunities presented by the changes in the global economy,” the declaration began.

Carryl reiterated that today the reality remains the same; individually we can’t succeed, hence the importance of continuing to educate the people of the region and push through the CSME principles.

“Change is not easy, especially when you talk about giving people rights, which they didn’t previously have,” he however noted, saying that the integration process is “quite extensive.”

The Opening ceremony was also addressed by the Executive Director of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Shafia London, who said that the Chamber of Commerce wants the business community to “understand clearly the opportunities that can arise if the arrangements are manifested in the manner agreed upon.”

She said that it is important for the local business community to embrace the competition that will come with the opening of the local market.

“No longer can we hide ourselves in a cocoon or we will find that we are doing a disservice to the people of our country and the generations that are coming behind us,” she said. (KJ)

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