Thursday, February 19, 2015
Thursday, February 19, 2015
Here follows the address by Prime Minster Perry Christie February 18 to the House of Assembly regarding the 26th Inter-sessional Meeting of the Conference of the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to be held in Nassau February 26-27:
On February 26-27, 2015, the Commonwealth of The Bahamas will again find itself on the world stage as we host the TWENTY-SIXTH INTER-SESSIONAL MEETING OF THE CONFERENCE OF HEADS OF GOVERNMENT OF THE CARIBBEAN COMMUNITY (CARICOM).
These meetings will be preceded by a meeting of the regional Foreign Ministers.
But before I update the House, I wish to congratulate the people of St. Kitts and Nevis for the peaceful manner in which polling at the general elections was conducted on Monday, 16 February 2015; I do so on behalf of the government and people of The Bahamas and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
Further, I congratulate Team Unity, am amalgamation of three opposition parties headed by Dr. Timothy Harris, a former senior cabinet minister in the government headed by Dr. Douglas of that country’s Labour Party. St. Kitts and Nevis has ensured that the democratic traditions of the Caribbean Community were upheld.
I express my thanks to Dr. Douglas for his service and especially his leadership as Prime Minister of matters of Health. I look forward to welcoming Prime Minister Harris to Nassau next week.
The objectives of the fifteen member states that make up the Caribbean Community are well known to us and this geo-political alliance has served the Caribbean well over the years, especially through the principle of functional cooperation.
The Community continues to work together to improve standards of living and work of our people; the full employment of labor and other factors of production; accelerated, coordinated and sustained economic development and convergence; expansion of trade and economic relations with third States; enhanced levels of international competitiveness; organization for increased production and productivity; achievement of a greater measure of economic leverage; effectiveness of Member States in dealing with third States, groups of States and entities of any description; and the enhanced coordination of Member States’ foreign and foreign economic policies and enhanced functional cooperation.
And next week Mr. Speaker, we convene in Nassau at the Melia Resorts to continue our mandate.
As for The Bahamas, I have placed on the agenda of the upcoming meetings for general discussion, the need to leverage CARICOM’s human, cultural and natural assets for the economic development of the community. This issue was raised by the former Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Rt. Hon P.J. Patterson as recently as November 2014 during his address to the 19th Annual Multi-national Business Conference right here in The Bahamas. Mr. Patterson as my guest has been invited to facilitate discussions on this matter.
On the issue of regional security, and particularly in light of the threat of the Islamic State of Iran and Syria (ISIS), the Council of National Security and Law Enforcement (CONSOLE) will convene a meeting to consider the briefings of the Commissioners of Police and Intelligence Agencies on this threat.
Other agenda items for consideration and discussions are as follow:
- Principles to guide the identification of CARICOM candidates for international positions.
- The establishment of the CARICOM Committee of Ambassadors.
- Revision of emoluments and proposed pension rules for judges of the Caribbean Court of Justice.
- Financing of the CARICOM Secretariat and community institutions.
- Audit of the Caribbean Knowledge Learning and Network Agency (CKLNA).
- Reparations for native genocide and slavery.
- Financing and composition of The Marijuana Commission.
- Discussions on how the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) can support the development of agriculture in the Community.
- Relations with the Dominican Republic.
I wish to add that in light of our local immigration reform efforts which are very different from the denationalization of Dominicans of Haitian descent by a court ruling of the Dominican Republic Constitutional Court in September 2013, CARICOM must engage in political diagolue and contact with the Dominican Republic. The Community must do so Mr. Speaker within the context of the requirements of CARIFORUM, under the revised Cotonou Agreement and the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
Many of these agenda items will be discussed in greater detail during the meetings next week as we conduct interviews and press briefings after the plenary sessions.
Mr. Speaker I thank you for the opportunity to provide this Honourable House with cursory information about the upcoming regional meetings.
It is only left for me to ask all Bahamians to extend that unique and special Bahamian hospitality in welcoming the Heads of Government to Nassau next week.
Thank you very much Mr. Speaker.