PHOTO CAPTION: From left, Barbados Labour Minister Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo; CARICOM Deputy Secretary-General Ambassador Manorma Soeknandan; Barbados Ambassador to CARICOM Robert ‘Bobby’ Morris; Gladys Young, CARICOM Secretariat; EU Representative Stephen Boyce
Online platforms launched to promote regional trade, business
Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana – The Caribbean community’s development of a single market and economy has been given a boost with the launch of four new online platforms aimed at promoting trade and improving the ease of doing business.
The CARICOM secretariat, with support from the European Union, on Monday launched the CARICOM Online Companies Registries; Labour Market Information System; Community Public Procurement Notice Board; and the CARREX Platform and On-Line Public Portal, at a ceremony in Barbados.
The CARICOM Online Companies Registries provide a region-wide electronic platform for online name searches and name reservation, business and company registration, public access to records, e-payment and e-signature, among other features. It will also facilitate a better overview of the prevailing business climate in the region, helping, for example, to identify areas of saturation, those with growth potential and even the role of the informal economy.
The EU’s Dr. Stephen Boyce, in remarks at the launch, said at least one recent high profile example illustrates the critical importance of this platform.
“A few years ago, the inflight magazine on LIAT was rebranded as LIME,” he said. “This was just a few weeks before a telecommunications giant in the region acquired a similar moniker. The result was a further rebranding to Zing to avoid any conclusion. A regional register would have avoided this,” he noted.
The development of this platform required automating the more than half of the national company registries in CARICOM, which were still paper based, upgrading those already automated, and providing a functioning web software/application information system.
With the Labour Market Information Systems there is now a central depository for data on the labour markets in participating CARICOM member states. This allows for better matching of skills with available positions at the regional level, and will thus facilitate movement of skills in the region and better management of labour migration within the Single Market and Economy (CSME).
Additionally, the launch was told that the system can guide the education system, helping it to meet market demands through academic, technical and professional development programmes designed to build and repurpose those already in the workforce and those about to enter.
The Community Public Procurement Notice Board should help both the private sector and governments by facilitating the exchange of information on procurement opportunities and contract awards. Governments, in particular can, through improved coordination of their public procurement exercises, maximise the potential economies of scale. Suppliers, including small and medium enterprises, can access opportunities both in their national space and engage in joint-bidding with other regional suppliers for opportunities across the region. The platform can also facilitate the capture of statistics on specs, pricing and other areas which can be used for future tenders and budgeting.
The CARICOM Rapid Alert System for Dangerous (non-food) Consumer Goods (CARREX) Platform and On-Line Public Portal should help business-customer relations by serving as a source of public information on dangerous non-food consumer goods that pose serious risks to the health and safety of consumers.
CARICOM Deputy Secretary-General Ambassador Manorma Soeknandan, in remarks at the launch, noted that significant strides have been made in advancing the CSME’s regional and sectoral policies but that more is left to the done. “These have been enumerated in the CSME Review considered by the Conference of Heads of Government and the Conference has approved the Implementation Plan for the CSME 2017-2019 in line with the CARICOM Strategic Plan which will see work progressing in these areas,” Soeknandan said.
The EU’s Boyce stressed the need for building resilience in the system across the region: “During the past three weeks, the path of devastation of hurricanes Irma and Maria has reminded us of the fragility of our built infrastructure. As our brothers and sisters across the region rebuild their lives and livelihoods, attention must also be paid to building a more robust and resilient digital infrastructure. At the regional and national levels, it will be vital to create technology recovery strategies as part of the business continuity planning process.”
Barbados Ambassador to CARICOM Robert “Bobby” Morris, speaking on behalf of the country’s foreign minister, stressed the importance of the CSME to regional development.
“The realisation of the CSME is seen as a major item in the advancement of the Caribbean and in recent times the COTED (CARICOM Council for Trade and Economic Development) and the Conference (of CARICOM Heads of Government) have had the CSME and Freedom of Movement, in particular, under intense scrutiny in attempts to realise the full benefits of integration for the masses of our people,” he said.