November 29, 2008

OECS biggest threat to CSME

OECS 'biggest threat' to CSME
Source: Nation Newspaper
Published on: 11/29/08.
by Anmarie Bailey-Blake

FORMER PRIME MINISTER of St Lucia and current opposition leader there, Kenny Anthony, has pointed to five reasons for the stalling of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).

Delivering the third Patrick A.M. Emmanuel Memorial Lecture at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies on Thursday night, he cited recent changes in governments; the lack of progress of the Caribbean Court of Justice; the ambivalence of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS); Jamaica's lack of commitment and cynicism over the prospect of a political union between the OECS and Trinidad and Tobago as reasons for the lull.

As he called for action from all governments to get CSME going, Anthony referred to remarks from St Vincent's Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves who said: "The apparent lack of interest by Jamaica is forestalling the creation of the CSME."

The opposition leader added that current Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding also stated that his administration "was not ready to embrace a single economy at this time".

Anthony asserted, "[The] return of the Jamaican Labour Party to office has resurrected fears, doubts ad anxieties about Jamaica's commitment to the CSME. The situation has not been helped."

Describing the attitude towards CSME as apathetic, he referred to an article written by Tony Best, where former Jamaican Prime Minister PJ Patterson said, ". . . I am not sure that the movers and shakers quite realise what are the possibilities which arise from the creation of the single market . . ."

Calling for immediate action on CSME, Anthony said the time was crucial as this crisis had been described by some as the scariest since the 1930s.

"The fractures which now appear in CARICOM could not have occurred at a worse possible time. The region now has to grapple with a global financial crisis."

He also suggested that the OECS shared the blame. "Perhaps the greatest threat to the future of the viability of the CSME, is the ambivalence of the OECS towards CARICOM and the CSME. OECS states continue to be unwilling suitors to the marriage . . . . Across the OECS, it is not uncommon to hear the view that there is nothing to be gained from the CSME."

Acknowledging that the current economic crisis also played a role, he said that rather than stalling the CSME, the crisis should spur the union into action.

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