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PM reaffirms commitment to regional integration at SALISES conference

By Balford Henry, Observer Senior Reporter

Saturday, August 25, 2012 | 4:18 PM    

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KINGSTON, Jamaica - Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has reaffirmed her government’s commitment to regional integration.

Speaking at the closing ceremony of the “50/50: Critical Reflections In a Time of Uncertainty” conference, hosted by the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute for Social and Economic Studies (SALISES), which ended at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston, on Friday, she said that there was much more that needed to be done for regional integration and co-operation.

“Our approach should be to strengthen and build on those regional institutions which are already in place,” Simpson Miller suggested.

“At the same time, we should use the achievements of individual nations to benchmark best practices to which all countries in the region aspire,” she added.

Simpson Miller said that there are isolated incidents which stall the regional efforts at co-operation and collaboration, but although problems will arise from time to time, the extent of their impact should be determined by the will and commitment to regional integration.

Describing herself as “a committed regionalist”, Simpson Miller said she intended to do everything within her power to build on the achievements to date, “in order to make the next 50 years a period that will bring increasingly improved social and economic conditions for our Caribbean people”.

Congratulating the UWI Mona-based SALISES, Simpson Miller said that they had comprehensively covered a wide range of issues, including those she had raised, during the week-long conference and she looked forward to the publication of the papers.

“I will mandate all my ministers and our policy advisers to read the publications. We must convert your useful ideas into positive actions: We must build our independence on solutions that cushion our peoples and systems against dependency and vulnerability,” she said.

Guest speaker at the closing ceremony was the Prime Minister of St  Vincent and the Granadines,  Ralph Gonsalves, who spoke on the theme “The Independence Experience of the OECS and Prospects for the Future”..

                                                                                   

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