GEORGETOWN, Guyana (GINA)
The 30th Heads of Government Conference of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), which was expected to be contentious, with migration and intra-regional trade rows threatening to disrupt the discussions, ended last evening with significant progress being made in several areas.
Global Economic and Financial Crisis
Recognizing that several countries in the Caribbean have been adversely affected by the global economic and financial crisis, the Heads of Government have taken the bold step of establishing the first ever regional Task Force of a political nature to find solutions for the region.
The Task Force, which comprises Prime Ministers Patrick Manning of Trinidad & Tobago, Bruce Golding of Jamaica, Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent & the Grenadines, David Thompson of Barbados and President Bharrat Jagdeo of Guyana, who will be the Chairman of the Task Force, is expected to be set in motion soon, considering the urgency of the issues it seeks to address.
Additional technical members of the Task Force include the CARICOM Secretary-General; President of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB); Director-General of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS); and the Director of the Caribbean Centre for Money and Finance (CCMF). The tourism industry in the Caribbean, which is a significant revenue earner for countries such as The Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica and others, has been decimated with fewer persons around the world travelling, and the financial service sector has been faced with difficulties stemming from the financial meltdown in the developed world and from the failures of the CL Financial and Stanford Groups.
Additionally, the real sectors have been affected by the contagious effect of the global downturn. In response, many countries do not have the budgetary space to conduct counter-cyclical spending to ease the effects of the crisis.
At the closing press conference on Saturday evening, the Chairman of CARICOM, President Jagdeo, stated, “It was recognized that we have to do a series of things but some of them would have to be very urgently done.”
The tasks before the Community are to mobilize the resources necessary to assist these countries and develop medium-to-long-term development strategies to set them on the right path. Earlier Saturday, the President had highlighted two options to obtain the resources needed. The President had stressed that the mobilization of CARICOM internal resources could be pivotal.
“We have significant reserves that are all held outside of the region. I think we have to make sure that we have a policy to invest those reserves. I think we can use our own resources to try to push forward development in our region,” he stated. Continue reading