Prime Minister Phillip Pierre has called on regional leaders to accelerate efforts for the implementation of the much-touted Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME), in a bid to help improve the welfare and livelihoods of citizens.
He also urged leaders to “take a page” from the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) by helping to bridge that “regional integration” movement; implementing a single currency to serve the interest of people from the sub-region.
Speaking at the Errol Barrow Memorial Lecture in Barbados, in a most distinguished role, PM Pierre said the formation and functionality of the CSME can lead to a single currency which will benefit all citizens of the region.
“Governments have not been moving fast enough to give national effect to the regional decisions of the CSME,” Pierre told a gathering of high-ranking personnel last Friday.
“We must give priority to the realization of the Single Market in the shortest possible time frame,” he added. “It is clear that if CARICOM is to deliver on reasonable standards of living of its people, as Errol Barrow had hoped, the deepening of the Caribbean integration through the CSME must proceed at 50 times the pace of integration within the next 50 years.”
PM Pierre said there needs to be “some urgency” in revisiting the agreements laid out for a single economy “whose attainment is now a goal on the distant horizon.”
He noted that one of the key components in setting up the CSME, was for “monetary integration”, which would involve among other things, “the creation of a single currency among member states, (where) several attempts at this have failed over the years.”
Added Pierre, the current Chairman of the ECCB’s Monetary Council: “It is instructive that the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) …launched its 40th anniversary celebrations in St Kitts. The ECCB is evidence that a single currency is possible, where there is the will and the discipline to give up a little sovereignty. ”
Pierre went on to say, “In this 50th year of CARICOM regional integration, it is time to make the effort once again. For, in addition to its economic benefits for the region, it would give Caribbean people tangible proof of the benefits of regional integration. It is not beyond us, the successors of Errol Barrow, Eric Williams, Forbes Burnham and Michael Manley, and inheritors of the region’s sole Nobel Laureate in Economics- Sir Arthur Lewis.”
While he acknowledged CARICOM’s record for raising the standard of living of people in the region, the ECCB Chairman said, he did not refer to the “functional cooperation” in CARICOM, in which member states pooled their resources “to deliver critical social services to the people.”
Pierre listed such factors as, cooperation in education, in health, statistics, tourism, export promotion, development of standards, public service management, culture, broadcasting and information, among other “functional cooperation areas (which) has been a successful pillar of CARICOM’s regional integration, and through well-known institutions like the CXC- Caribbean Examination Council , University of the West Indies (UWI), and Errol Barrow was one of the prime movers behind the creation of the Cave Hill Campus (Barbados).”