Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, the Hon Dr. Terrance Drew, on Wednesday called for greater collaboration to make it easier for people to move as he highlighted the difficulty and high cost of intra-regional travel.
During his address at the opening of the 44th Meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government in Nassau, The Bahamas, Prime Minister Drew raised the matter of transportation in the context of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). He gave the assurance that his country remains committed to the CSME and believes in the free movement of skills, services, goods, capital and all the other key elements of the Region’s flagship project.
But he said it is “difficult for us to extoll the virtues of the CSME without addressing the proverbial ‘elephant in the room’ – intra-regional transport.”
“The reality is that it is too difficult and too costly for the people of the region to move and enjoy the benefits of true integration within the single space which has been created for them to do so at optimal levels.
“Coming to this meeting in the beautiful Bahamas is an example of a disconnect between our countries. A number of delegations had to transit through Miami, and perhaps overnight there before flying to our sister CARICOM-member destination. It should take less than 24 hours to move from country to country within our region,” he argued.
He pointed out that compared to developed countries with highly developed transport means and modalities, the Caribbean remains at a disadvantage in realising the benefits of the CSME that the framers of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas envisagad.
Among the objectives of the Community’s Transport Policy identified in Chapter Six of the Treaty are the organisation of efficient, reliable, affordable transport services throughout the Community, as well as the promotion of cooperative arrangements for the provision of transport services.
Prime Minister Drew acknowledged the work being done by the Caribbean Development Bank and other key players “to seek a sustainable solution to bridge the gaps that exist and breathe life into the provisions of Chapter Six of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.
“From our vantage point, the Government of St Kitts and Nevis has explored several options in collaboration with a few partners to make it easier for people to move to and from our jurisdiction to engage in business or leisurely activities. We encourage other Member States to do likewise. We cannot rest on our laurels while the efficiency gap gets wider causing us to fall further behind in achieving our development objectives,” he said.
SOURCE: CARICOM Today