Community governance, a fixed single CARICOM roaming rate and a unified regional approach were among the key highlights of Chair of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Hon. Mia Amor Mottley, when she addressed the opening of the Thirty-First Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference in Barbados, earlier on 18 February 2020.
On the issue of community governance, the Chair noted that “some self-examination” was in order. Her references included the under-resourced CARICOM Secretariat which she said was now functioning with 30 million Eastern Caribbean dollars less than it did 10 years ago and with 40 people less than it did 30 years ago”, despite increasing challenges and new mandates.
She questioned whether the “appropriate governance and funding models to ensure the sustainability of this `family movement’ that is so vital to our being able to bring prosperity to our citizens”, was in place.
She suggested a review of the 2003 Rose Hall Declaration and the entire issue of community governance with a view to finding a modality that would allow for more effective implementation of Heads decisions, particularly those related to the CARICOM Single Market and Single Economy.
Speaking on matters of the digital economy, the Chair reiterated the Community’s belief in this sector’s “powerful role in the development of our economies”. She used this opportunity to make a very well received (given audience reaction) announcement of ongoing work to provide a “a modest fixed single CARICOM roaming rate for all CARICOM nationals”, which she informed will be announced shortly.
“Our teams have been working with operators in the telecommunications sector across the Region and indeed, Prime Minister Mitchell, who is the lead prime minister in this area, has, along with the CSME team, worked with the operators to shortly announce a modest fixed single CARICOM roaming rate for all CARICOM nationals to cover the cost of data for popular social media platforms including, those that offer messaging and calls”, she said
“The rate will include an amount of local and regional voice calls, and over time this CARICOM rate will include more services. This is what it means to be family taking decisions”, she explained.
On the last issue of “family”, the Chair, throughout our presentation, reiterated the importance of a unified approach despite ideology, to surmount the ever present and changing global challenges before the Region.