'We have to do better'

Barbados PM pushes for intra-regional travel at Caricom Summit

BY MARK CUMMINGS
Editor-at-Large
cummingsm@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, July 06, 2018

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ROSE HALL, St James — Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley says the time has come for Caricom to activate the Single Domestic Space for intra-regional travel and to introduce the long-discussed Caribbean Community multi-purpose identification card, for which costs can be met not just by governments and ordinary citizens, but by the business community who will be among its major beneficiaries.

“In 2007, we put great effort into creating a single domestic space for our visitors to move freely within Caricom during Cricket World Cup. All the relevant security measures were in place, and still are, to monitor that space effectively, and the groundwork was laid to make this a legacy project for the benefit of Caricom citizens. Yet, a decade later, the momentum seems to have been lost. We did it for those external to our region and yet we seem incapable of doing it for ourselves,” she argued.

Mottley, Barbados' first female prime minister, whose Barbados Labour Party swept to power in a historic landslide victory in that country's May 24 General Election, pointed out that travel and interaction among Caribbean people create understanding, reinforces common purpose and ultimately strengthens regional integration.

“A Single Domestic Space for hassle-free travel, in a sense, presupposes the existence of a Single Domestic Space for transportation,” she stressed.

“Something is therefore fundamentally wrong when travel to Miami or New York is more accessible and cost-effective for our people than travel to their nearest Caribbean neighbour. We simply have to do better.”

“As the major shareholder in LIAT (Leeward Islands Air Transport), my Government commits to working assiduously and urgently with its other partner governments to enhance LIAT's operations and profitability, while providing an affordable and reliable service to enable our citizens to move throughout the Caribbean,” she argued.

Mottley, who was delivering her remarks at the opening ceremony for the 39th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community at the Montego Bay Convention Centre on Wednesday night, further argued that to get the full benefit of “our common space in the movement of people, cargo and vehicles”, renewed and focused leadership is also called for to translate the much-studied inter-island ferry service from concept to reality.

“Sustaining a spirit of community and a sense of Caribbean identity requires the constant sharing of ideas and experiences, and the frequent exchange of information. Our people cannot develop a true regional consciousness if they only see themselves interpreted through an external lens,” said Mottley.

Mottley has also called on Caricom to place greater emphasis on the protection of the Caribbean Sea.

“We recognise in Barbados that our maritime jurisdiction covers 400 times the area of our land. So we must first protect our sea and conserve its marine life. Our coral reefs are dying at an unacceptable rate, and we must commit to their rebuilding as this is the basis of our environment, of who we are and the nature of our lifestyle,” said Mottley.

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