PM Harris hails 31st inter-sessional CARICOM meeting a success in cementing next key steps for implementing the CSME

Basseterre, St. Kitts, February 17 (Press Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister): The two-day 31st Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) wrapped up in Bridgetown, Barbados yesterday, Wednesday, February 19th, 2020, with Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris proclaiming it a success upon his return to the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.

“I think it was a very productive meeting, and certainly the Heads of Government succeeded in advancing the agenda of deepening the integration among our people and countries making up CARICOM,” Prime Minister Harris said.

In relation to their discussions surrounding a CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), the Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis stated that, “We saw efforts being made to accelerate the free movement of people, to broaden the prospects for more investments between Member States.”

The Prime Minister noted that, “While, in principle, St. Kitts and Nevis is supportive of the free movement of the factors of production, such as labour, capital and technology, we would wish that as it pertains to the free movement of people that that be a managed process.”

Prime Minister Harris went on to explain that, “St. Kitts and Nevis already accommodates a large number of nationals of CARICOM Member States, and we want to ensure that efforts at accelerating the pace of the integration process would not be to the disadvantage of our people.”

St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister added: “We would like to see the deepening of functional cooperation among Member States, as well as preferential arrangements being made to ensure greater access to health and education support services.”

Regarding health and education support services, Prime Minister Harris said: “This is an area that I believe can bring tremendous benefit to our people, given that the flow of persons in the context of free movement comes largely from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Guyana.

The Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis continued: “These countries tend to have a more developed education infrastructure, meaning universities and accredited bodies, and can produce more graduates in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and other high-demand areas of study.  Giving our people preferred access to those Member States would allow us to garner some benefit.”

The CARICOM Heads of Government welcomed the offer from Jamaica to provide scholarships to assist Member States in building their Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) capacity.

The Heads of Government further agreed to establish a Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee led by the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and including the Heads of Government of Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago, to review the work of a previous group as it relates to issues of implementation, financing, and institutional arrangements for governance.

The Sub-Committee is expected to submit recommendations to the 41st Regular Meeting of the Conference of CARICOM Heads of Government.  The meeting will take place in St. Vincent and the Grenadines from July 2nd – 3rd, 2020.

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