Premier, the Hon. Vance Amory, has expressed concerns over the possible outcome of the 27th Regular Meeting of CARICOM.
The meeting, which took place at the headqua rters of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, saw heads of government from 15 nations of the Caribbean Community.
Haiti too was represented at the meeting as the country intends to re-enter the Caribbean Community.
Heads of government discussed a packed agenda, which included the transition into the Caribbean Single Market and Economy.
Amory said that there were critical issues relating to the OECS and the smaller developing countries, which had yet to be discussed.
“I won’t predict what will happen at the meeting, but if the discussions which took place at the OECS meeting just a week and a half are indications, I do believe that the meetings are going to revolve around special considerations for the OECS,” said Premier Amory.
He said the OECS countries will have a very difficult time transitioning into the CSME.
“In terms of the removal of duties and the fact that we can have easier access of persons, are things which have to be resolved. We are also looking at the Caribbean Develo pment Fund which is being proposed and I do believe that the amount of US$120 million is nowhere near what is required,” Amory said.
“I’m sure that during this meeting over the next couple of days, these matters will be looked at and I trust that we can have resolution. Otherwise, we are going to end up in a stalemate,” the Premier added.
The Nevisian Leader observed that one needed to reflect on some of the pronouncements made from previous OECS meetings.
“The pronouncement with regards to Alien Land Holding Licence and the easy access to the purchase of lands from people within the region and within the island territories,” Amory said. “We have to look at the issue of work permits and those issues are important.”
“I am always of the view that you cannot forget the sovereignty of countries regardless of how one wants to talk about greater collaboration and greater cooperation. There will have to be some give and take and there will also have to be some compromise on issues which are affecting the people.
“I trust for the good of the region that we can have a resolution on this CSME during this meeting, if not, at least see some greater light towards a resolution.”
The Premier said trade liberalization needed to be re-examined along with the whole issue of free trade and free movement. “Because this has been said to create a negative impact on a number of developing countries,” Amory said. “The developing countries which have limited resources and which are dependent on the issue of import duties, the protection of their employment base and their economic base, must be concerned.”
Premier Amory explained that he did not subscribe to the issue that more trade brings development.
“What brings development is if there is investment, which creates jobs and people are therefore able to work in their own locations rather than having to drift here and there looking for sustenance.”