Caribbean Leaders serious this time around about sorting out issues affecting Intra-Regional Travel – 5th Jul 2013
If there is anyone to tell you about progress being made in transportation talks, it’s the Prime Minister of St. Vincent, Ralph Gonsalves. He has been the most vocal on the issue in his 12 years as Prime Minister attending these meetings with the rest of the Heads of Government of CARICOM. Coming out of the first round of talks, he seemed in good spirits.
At closed door talks in Port of Spain, Mr. Gonslaves put on the table several issues which were agreed to at a special meeting of CARICOM’s Council on Trade and Economic Development which he hosted in May this year.
The recommendations from Trade Ministers include the reintroduction of the Single Domestic Space (SDS) which was established for Cricket World Cup in 2007. Under that arrangement, CARICOM nationals were free to move around the region without having their passports stamped, and visitors to the Caribbean would only have their passports stamped at one point of entry.
There have been concerns that the CARICOM passport is not serving the purpose it should, that of allowing CARICOM nationals an automatic six-month stay.
Discussions are also focused on Caribbean Airlines, which is granted a fuel subsidy by the Trinidad Government, something that others see as being anti-competitive and in violation of the rule book of the Community.
The Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Mr. Baldwin Spencer agreed that the talks are headed in the right direction as he gave an insight into the closed door meetings.
Mr. Spencer said that this time around the leaders are determined to make sure they leave their annual meetings with results, especially on this troublesome issue.
Development of the Community’s transport sector has its underpinnings in Chapter Six of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, which established the goal of the Community Transport Policy as the provision of adequate, safe and internationally competitive transport services for the development of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy.