Grenada (McKoy’s News) – CARICOM Agrees to Venezuela Mission: Caribbean Community CARICOM leaders have reached consensus on several critical issues, including their next step on Venezuela and measures to strengthen the CARICOM Single Market and Economy, CSME.
The three day 38th Meeting of the Heads of Government meeting ended yesterday with Prime Minister Andrew Holness in attendance.
Chairman of the 15-nation grouping, Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell confirmed that leaders will formally offer their help to President Nicolas Maduro to help mediate the long-running, bitter impasse with Opposition forces, which has resulted in more than three months of violent unrest.
Dr. Mitchell told the closing news conference that leaders have settled on a sending mission to Caracas.
Prime Minister of Dominica Dr. Roosevelt Skerrit had proposed a mission to include some leaders which he said could help clarify CARICOM’s understanding of the issues.
Dr. Skerrit further stated that the Heads of Government would want to offer their good offices to facilitate the dialogue leading to a comprehensive political agreement that will establish timetables, concrete actions, and guarantees to ensure its implementation.
The CARICOM Chair also reported that efforts were being strengthened to breathe new life into the CSME.
Officials will identify the roadblocks that have hindered the progress of the CSME and an implementation plan will also be formulated to ensure the outstanding measures are addressed.
The high cost of regional travel was also a major talking point at the summit, with leaders trading words and punches on the operators of LIAT.
Prime Minister Mitchell is calling on his colleagues to ease aviation taxes as he complained that it was easier for CARICOM people to travel abroad than move around the island chain.
The heads have agreed to ask the Caribbean Development Bank to finance a study on the impact of aviation taxes on the economies of member states.
They also committed to the implementation of measures to facilitate ease of travel in the region and issued a call for Government-owned airlines to continue to work towards increasing their level of collaboration and co-ordination.
On the table for discussion included the growing epidemic of Non-Communicable Diseases NCDs which is a major concern for Heads of Government.
A report from the Port of Spain NCDs Summit Declaration warned that the Caribbean had the distinction of having the highest mortality rate from NCDs in the Americas. Over 40% of those deaths are premature.
Leaders underscored the need for fresh efforts to curb the ravages of NCDs like diabetes through legislation and intensified public education activities.
Contributed by Dr. Colin O Jarrett