Antiguan PM says transportation integral to Caricom single market

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Antiguan PM says transportation integral to Caricom single market
Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne addresses 39th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of Caricom at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James on Wednesday night. (Photo: Philp Lemonte)
Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne addresses 39th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of Caricom at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James on Wednesday night. (Photo: Philp Lemonte)

(JAMAICA OBSERVER) – Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne says if a single market is to become reality for the Caribbean Community (Caricom), the time has come to stop pussyfooting around and establish an effective regional transportation system.

“So I say to this meeting, if we have to manifest our seriousness about a single market and if we are to convince the Caribbean people of our commitment to regional integration, we must act to establish effective regional transportation, even at the cost of a subsidy. The time for talking has passed. The excuses are stale and they are irrelevant. The time for action is now,” Browne said while speaking at the official opening of the 39th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of Caricom at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James on Wednesday night.

He argued that the issue of regional transportation “causes the greatest irritation to all our peoples”.

The Antigua and Barbuda prime minister noted that the absence of an effective regional transportation system is even more irksome for the business community.

“They are rightly infuriated at the high cost of travel in the region and the profound difficulties to direct travel between our countries,” Browne lamented.

“Even if we solve all the technical issues that permeate establishing the CSME (Caricom Single Market and Economy), we will achieve nothing unless we implement the means to transport people and goods across the region. It is imperative,” he insisted.

Browne noted that as far back as 1992, the West Indies Commission made the telling point that “West Indian integration will wither on the vine and die without adequate sea and air transportation services”, and “the matter is in the most profound and fundamental sense at the very heart of the integration process itself”.

“That observation has grown in relevance in the passing years. The leadership of our Caribbean Community cannot continue to abdicate responsibility for ensuring the availability of reliable and regional air and sea transportation,” Browne argued.

“We cannot leave it to the private sector any more, and the private sector can’t leave it to us. It is a joint responsibility that is a precondition of success for a single market in which our business community moves its goods and to the fundamental importance on linking the Caribbean people together,” he said.

“Over the years, this issue has been studied, the studies have been studied, they have been shelved, dusted and studied again,” Browne said.

His view was supported by Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. The people who put the CARITA, CARICOM, and CSME ideas together were all besotted with an extremely fragile idea called integration.

    They may have been well-intentioned. But the road to HELL, is paved with good intentions. Ask for example, those who fly on LIAT.

    Even today, the less than realistic, still cannot seem to see that there are vast stretches of water separating each and every Member State. Such downright obliviousness is what perpetually clouds the judgement of all those making those fine unrealistic speeches, going on for decades upon decades. That is NEVER on the agenda.

    Nobody, pauses to reflect on how to bridge the yawning gaps of unbridgeable water in between Member States. Moreover, there is not enough profitable commerce to even consider bridging those gaps between those islands and territories with engineering works.

    Do they think the problem will suddenly fix itself with empty talk? Perhaps, some do.

    Now, every investor worth his salt is very familiar with the term 'due diligence'. Right?

    One does not plunk down money on a company, when you cannot see audited financial records in a time series. Right? Or else?

    If you do then, you are a perfect ass. And that is what some people want Saint Lucians to commit to? Even those who just seem to be barely making it, with English as a second language?

    LIAT is a closed private limited liability company. Only the owner governments seem to know where, or what financial statements or records are being produced about that company. Why the hell must others jump in this lousy situation and throw good money after bad?

    LIAT has perhaps never ever operated in the black. It is a financial blackhole. Only financial idiots keep on pouring money into such rabbit holes.

    There is not even the prospect of a leverage buyout. If LIAT were to liquidate today, one would be hard-pressed to find real owned assets to sell to cover financial obligations.

    It is well past the time to inject some deep realism into regional affairs for once. There is just too much hot air and pie in the sky passing for erudition.

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  2. Totally agree with Mr Browne on.transportation subject.
    In addition to transportation , we have more than enough land in the Caribbean to generate a successful good distribution market and stop importing other countries chemical sprayed and GMO foods . If we love yourself and our neighbors we would our healthy lifestyle seriously. Stop hurting our children , grandchildren , and grandparents. Put those.university young people to study their future in the Caribbean and use they valuable information to developer our region . Also ask the university professors for ideas to get the work done to help each island.
    I would recommend some islands implement a train system and use the buses to cross country the people to the train stations so that the get to their destination faster with i monthly plastic bus pass that you top up at month end .wish you all God's blessings! LOVE you all !

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    • Right now, with all the language confusion, the problem is obviously not transportation but communication. If businesspeople want to do more business in, or expand into other states, then they are going to have to transport their ideas. Buy radio or television time. Market. Investigate the use of alternative communication transport systems. Then let freight handlers, containerization, etc address the physical transportation needs.

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