Caricom single economy in place by 2015 – Girvan report

A report on the implementation of the Caricom Single Economy, commissioned by Heads at their meeting in St Lucia last year, sees this being implemented by 2015.

The Caricom Heads of Government accepted the Norman Girvan (University of the West Indies) Report ‘Towards a Single Economy and a Single Development Vision’, at their last Inter-sessional meeting in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

It is intended to serve as the basis for decisions by the Heads of Government on the direction, content and priorities as the community moves from Single Market to Single Economy.

It is organised into five sections dealing with the scope and development vision, the sectoral economic drivers of regional development, enabling environment for regional development dealing with economic policy harmonisation and social and institutional structures, and the sequencing of further implementation of the CSME.

Sequencing of further CSME implementation is divided into two phases. The current phase (Phase One) which spans mid-2005 to mid-2008 looks at the consolidation of the Single Market and the initiation of the Single Economy. Phase Two deals with the consolidation and completion of the Single Economy covering the period 2009 to 2015.

The current phase was initiated by the brainstorming session on the CSME held in Barbados in May 2005 and would end with the Heads of Government Conference to be held in July 2008, at which time firm decisions should be taken on the content and implementation schedule of the Single Economy and the Single Development Vision.

According to the report, this phase consists of technical work, consultations with stakeholders, political deliberations and political decision-making on the specifics of the programmes laid out in the document.

Political approval

Its main factors would be political approval of the broad outline and thrust of the Development Vision and the Regional Development Strategy, extension of categories of free movement of labour and streamlining of existing procedures, including contingent rights, full implementation of free movement of service providers, with streamlined procedures, preparation and agreement of a regional Human Resource Development Strategy.

Other factors are: implementation of legal status for the Caricom Charter for Civil Society; implementation of the provisions of the Rose Hall Declaration on Governance and Mature Regionalism and forging of social partnership by agreement among the social partners on a regional social compact. Establishment and commencement of operations of the Regional Development Fund and the Regional Stock Exchange; political approval of the Caricom Investment Regime and Caricom Financial Services Agreement, to come into effect by January 1, 2009 are also listed as factors.

Other elements include further technical work as needed, in collaboration with stakeholders, on regional policy frameworks for energy-related industries such as agriculture, sustainable tourism and agro-tourism, new export services, transport, and small and medium enterprises.

It is expected that these elements would lead to political agreement by July 2008 and implementation schedules would begin no later than January 1, 2009.

The Girvan Report projects that negotiation and political approval of the Protocol on Enhanced Monetary Cooperation and agreement among regional central banks on a common Caricom currency would come into effect no later than January 1, 2009. The proposed implementation schedule of detailed technical work on harmonization of taxation regimes, fiscal incentives and financial regulatory environment also commences on January 1, 2009.

Moreover, there should be further technical work and consultation with stakeholders as needed, leading to political approval no later than July 2008 on a Regional Environmental Regulatory regime, common policy framework on small and medium enterprises, regional competition policy, technical standards, regional intellectual property regime, and principles of corporate governance.

During the second phase, there would be a phased implementation of the decisions taken in Phase One. The details would depend on the results of the technical work, consultations with stakeholders, and political decisions taken during that phase.

The report noted that Phase Two would generally consist of implementation of common policies in energy-related industries, agriculture, sustainable tourism and agro-tourism, transport, and small and medium enterprises; harmonisation of taxation systems, incentives, and financial and regulatory environment; harmonisation of fiscal and monetary policies; implementation of regional competition policy and regional intellectual property regime; and implementation of a Caricom Monetary Union.

In the other sections of the Girvan Report, the scope and development vision looks at the economic, social, environmental and governance dimensions.

Economic drivers

The chapter with sectoral economic drivers of regional development looked at the concept and role of the economic drivers, which were highlighted as energy, agriculture, forestry and fishing, sustainable tourism and agro-tourism, and emerging export and other services.

The enabling environment in terms of economic policy harmonisation deals with investment, taxation and incentives, financial services, capital market integration, and enhanced monetary cooperation/monetary union.

The enabling environment in terms of social and institutional structures looks at social partnership, human resources and research and development, small and medium enterprises, corporate governance, competition policy, regional quality infrastructure, transport, Caricom Development Fund and Regional Development Agency.

The Girvan Report was prepared with inputs from a wide range of stakeholders in the regional integration process; a brainstorming session on the CSME held in Barbados in May 2005 set the framework for the work that followed.

The consultative process involved a Concept Paper on the vision for the Caricom Economy for the year 2015 by Girvan.

A number of consultative symposia organised by the Caricom Secretariat were held last year beginning in January, including one on Enhanced Monetary Co- operation in Jamaica on May 15; and a high-level symposium on the CSME in Barbados in June which some 300 persons attended.

The report said the Barbados symposium provided convincing evidence that Caricom has the human resources, knowledge, expertise and wisdom needed to advance its own development and integration. It also marked a significant step in the development of a regional consensus on the direction of Caricom’s development and the priorities for implementation of the CSME.

The Heads of Government meeting held in St Kitts and Nevis last year agreed that Girvan would be tasked with producing a revised version of his concept paper integrating the symposia submissions.

The revised report was further discussed at a symposium in Barbados in October. A task force that included representatives from the Caricom Secretariat, the University of the West Indies, Caribbean Development Bank, Caribbean Association of Industry and Commerce and the Caribbean Congress of Labour and further revised and considered it. The final version was prepared by the Caricom Secretariat in consultation with Girvan for submission to the Special Meeting of the Heads in November last year.

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