Jul 05, 2016 News
With the Heads of Government of 14 other Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries paying rapt attention, President of Suriname Desi Bouterse, issued a dire warning to the bloc of the need to evolve into an economic powerhouse, truly able to face global challenges.
Bouterse was addressing the opening of the Thirty-Seventh regular conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM, which Guyana is hosting on behalf of Dominica. The opening ceremony unfolded at the National Cultural Centre (NCC) yesterday.
One of the President’s entreaties was for the CARICOM countries involved in the extractive industries, to take urgent steps to come together in order to iron out how best to diversify their industries and link service sectors.
Bouterse said that those involved in these sectors are confronted by the reality of a global economic slowdown and low market prices, including for oil. However, the Head of State made it clear that CARICOM members must remain resolute.
“Decreasing oil prices (and slumps in other commodity prices) have created challenges for all of us in the wider Caribbean. Concentrating on the diversification of our economies is one of the challenges we face as CARICOM states.”
Suggesting that CARICOM must also seek to engage experts in these consultations, Bouterse pointed to the downturn in the amount of tourists traveling to the Caribbean as one issue that must be addressed.
He also observed the vested interest the United States of America (USA) had in assisting the region in curbing Trafficking in Persons (TIP) and money laundering.
The Caribbean has been labeled as a tax haven and accused of lax tax regimes and avenues for money laundering and terrorism financing. CARICOM has defended its record, stating that there is no evidence to prove this.
At their Inter-sessional meeting in Belize, Heads “emphasized that Member States have complied with all global regulatory standards, including those established by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Global Forum, and have been scrutinized in every detail by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) other multilateral institutions”.
They deemed the action by the correspondent banks, “as an economic assault” tantamount to an economic blockade against CARICOM Member States.
But CARICOM, using the power of the collective, had appointed a high level advocacy group, led by the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gastown Browne, to represent the interests of the Region in addressing the issue, including approaches to the United Nations, the World Trade Organisation and the United States Government.
CARICOM is one of the longest surviving integration movements among developing countries, with the original Treaty of Chaguaramas signed on July 4, 1973.
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