(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown)The Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) at their Eleventh Special Meeting held at the Sherbourne Centre, Barbados, 7th December 2005, considered the finalisation of the arrangements for the launch of the CARICOM Single Market. The Heads of Government reaffirmed their decision that the Single Market will come into force on 1 January 2006.
The Meeting received a report from the Lead Head of Government with responsibility for the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), the Rt. Honourable Owen Arthur.
Prime Minister Arthur had been requested by the Conference of Heads of Government at their last Regular Meeting in Saint Lucia in July, to conduct a visit to Member States of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) to discuss issues and measures which relate to implementation of the special and differential treatment provisions under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas and which also related to their ability to meet the December 2005 deadline for the establishment of the Single Market. These visits were extended to Belize, Guyana and Suriname who face particular challenges.
Following the conduct of these visits by the Prime Minister and his technical team, and the consultative process with those Member States, Prime Minister Arthur outlined his proposals and recommendations.
Based on those proposals and recommendations, the Heads of Government agreed that it was urgent to begin the operation of the Regional Development Fund as established in Chapter Seven of the Revised Treaty.
The Leaders agreed that it was absolutely necessary that the Council for Finance and Planning (COFAP) meet on 12 December 2005 as scheduled to agree on measures to put the Fund into operation. The Leaders agreed that the Fund needed to be made functional almost immediately. They noted that it needed to be of a substantial enough size to make an impact and that it was necessary that Member States themselves contribute to the Fund.
The Heads of Government, conscious of the need for structured institutional arrangements dedicated to delivering the assistance required by the OECS Member States to benefit fully from the establishment of the CSME, also agreed to consider the establishment of a Regional Development Agency in an OECS country to plan, ensure and manage the rapid delivery of the technical assistance as envisaged by Chapter Seven of the Revised Treaty.
The Agency would, through consultation with the beneficiary countries, help to identify the specific areas for special and differential treatment and to provide such treatment through technical assistance in support of the development and operationalisation of the policy to increase capacity and promote international competitiveness among the OECS Member States.
This Agency would be established at no financial cost to the principal beneficiaries.
The Heads of Government welcomed the undertaking of the following Member States – Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago that they will be Single Market ready by 31 December 2005.
The Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines had indicated its country’s readiness but was not represented at this Meeting due to general elections being held in that country on the day of this meeting. The Heads thought it prudent to await confirmation from the Government.
The Heads of Government accepted the request from St. Kitts and Nevis for a deferment until 31 January 2006 to complete the parliamentary process. The Leaders also accepted the deferment requested by the Government of Grenada due to special circumstances. Heads of Government welcomed the undertaking of the Government of Grenada to complete the process and be fully compliant by 31 March 2006.
The Heads of Government agreed in principle to a procedure intended to bring the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas into force by 1 January 2006. The Leaders agreed that this would be done with the utmost urgency.
The Heads of Government expressed appreciation to the Lead Head of Government for his sterling efforts in advancing the process of deeper integration of the Community and invited him to continue his efforts with a view to facilitating the completion of the Single Market and advancement towards the Single Economy.