Jul 05, 2013 News
By Neil Marks in Port-of-Spain
The Prime Minister of Grenada, Keith Mitchell, has led the charge for governments of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to do more to make travelling across the Caribbean more affordable.
“Without a bold solution to this continuing challenge, we’ll turn the dream of closer economic union…into a nightmare of unfulfilled purposes,” Dr Mitchell said at the opening of the CARICOM Heads of Government Meeting in Port-of-Spain Wednesday evening.
Among his proposals is bringing down taxes on airline tickets and for governments to provide subsidies to those in the Region who want to invest in the airline business.
Mitchell said that the time has come for governments to stop arguing about the transportation problem in the Caribbean – for them to stop calling names – and instead work on a bold solution.
He said the biggest impediment to the integration process is hindrance to the free movement of people.
Dr Mitchell said that travelling across the region by air is too expensive and Caribbean governments can do more by reviewing the taxes on travel tickets.
“The challenge remains for all of us to determine on how to get our people and their goods across the region in a cheaper more timely and more efficient manner,” he stated.
The Prime Minister said that the fear among some governments is that by reducing taxes, there will be reduced incomes to cash-strapped treasuries and airport authorities. However, he said if more people start travelling, the volume of traffic would compensate for any revenues lost by bringing down taxes.
“We have heard the complaints of our people…that it is easier and cheaper to go to Miami, New York, Toronto, and London than to get from Port of Spain to Roseau, or from Castries to Kingston.
“It takes three times as long and double the price from St Georges to Belize City than from the same St Georges to Miami,” he stated.
Mitchell said that if CARICOM cannot develop policies for the free movement of people, the goal of regional integration and convergence would be lost.
The Prime Minister of Trinidad Kamla Persad-Bissessar has suggested a ministerial meeting to discuss issues with respect to Liat and Caribbean Airlines, as part of the rationalisation of regional transportation.
“Such a meeting can also deal with the establishment of ferry services connecting the islands, which would have a positive direct impact on trade and tourism,” she said.
Dr Mitchell said the task force should be represented at the highest level by a caucus of heads of government, leaders in business, especially the hotel industry, transportation sector, airline and shipping lines, and trade unions.
He said the lack of a network of sea services mean that the products manufactured in the region cannot get to ports in the Caribbean in a timely manner and still be at a competitive rate.
Dr Mitchell said previous attempts to debate the matter of transportation have sometimes degenerated into name-calling and the blame game.
“But as we sit here today, we will come to appreciate that this tactic has not served us well. We’re still further away from a solution,” he stated.
Dr Mitchell said that a Task Force on transportation should be established and be asked to deliver results within six months.
Guyana has been heavily critical of Caribbean Airlines, accusing it of gouging the local market, given the pullout of Delta Airlines and the collapse of low-cost airlines such as Redjet and EZjet.
Transport Minister Robeson Benn is attending the Summit to represent Guyana in those negotiations on transportation.
Intra-regional transportation is facing serious challenges to the extent that, in the wake of a series of calls from both the public and private sectors to address these challenges, special focus was placed on transportation issues at a Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) held in May, last, in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Ministers are expected to recommend the reintroduction of the Single Domestic Space (SDS) that was established for Cricket World Cup in 2007, as one of the measures to provide some relief to those traversing the Community.
Among the features of the SDS were freedom of movement for all domestic travelers and a Special Visa stamped at the first port of entry for travellers from outside the Region to allow hassle-free movement among the participating SDS states. Measures to support the initiative included an Advanced Passenger Information System (APIS) which provided specific information to the destination point prior to the boarding of passengers.
The Ministers are also expected to recommend to the Heads of Government that they support the proposed LIAT application to the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) for the required financing to meet the costs of its re-fleeting exercise.
The upgrading of LIAT’s aircraft fleet is necessary to sustain its operation and improve its services.
Development of the Community’s transport sector has its underpinnings in Chapter Six of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, which establishes 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.
Jun 16, 2021By Franklin Wilson Kaieteur News – Guyana Football Federation (GFF) President Wayne Forde was yesterday resolute in stating that his Federation will not be making any hasty decision (s) with...
Jun 16, 2021
Jun 16, 2021
Jun 16, 2021
Jun 16, 2021
Jun 16, 2021
Kaieteur News – Are you telling the world that a coalition of parties won the government and soon after mediocrity,... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]