(Jamaica Observer) Prime Minister Andrew Holness yesterday expressed disappointment with what he described as “uneven” implementation of decisions made at Caricom’s 39th Heads of Government meeting in Montego Bay last July.
Holness said that in some respects, the leaders have sought to get things done by following through and implementing some critical decisions, with a view to making the mechanisms within Caricom rational and functional.
“However, it cannot have escaped your notice that even with this renewed energy and additional meetings, that implementation of our decisions remains uneven and less than optimal,” he told the Caricom Heads of Government 18th Special Meeting, which is focused on the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME).
Holness noted that he would soon be concluding his six-month term as chairman of the Conference of Heads of the 45-year-old community, but he was reaching the end of his tenure with mixed feelings.
He said that he felt a sense of pride in the renewed energy placed behind efforts to make good on the commitments made to the estimated 16 million citizens of the region.
He said that the two-day meeting, which is being held in Port-of-Spain, is looking at increasing the rate of implementation of the CSME and making sure the benefits are available for community nationals.
Holness said, however, that he is encouraged by the fact that the community has a long tradition of dialogue and compromise.
“For this reason, I remain convinced that our deliberations over these two days will culminate in unity of purpose and consensus on a strategy to not only expedite the CSME implementation process across member states, but to also make the CSME more effective,” he added.
He noted the momentum generated at the 39th Regular Session in Montego Bay to activate work that had been dormant since 2013, and the fact that leaders had taken an important step to respond to the concerns of community nationals who deserve to be treated with respect and dignity when they are denied entry into a member state.
“We adopted the Procedures on the Refusal of Entry, which provide the much-needed guarantee that the rights of community nationals will be safeguarded when member states assess that they are undesirable and will be a charge on the public purse. I trust we have all taken the necessary steps to implement the procedures at our respective ports of entry,” Holness said.
The two-day meeting, which is being chaired by Holness, is looking at increasing the rate of implementation of the CSME and making sure the benefits are available for community nationals.