Chairman of the Caribbean Community, Vincentian Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, says that the agenda for the regional heads of government meeting here next week will be “quite long” but there are several issues on which he would like to focus.
The Twenty-Fifth Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM will take place in Buccament Bay on March 10 and 11.
The meeting was originally scheduled for Feb. 24 and 25, but was postponed because those dates were inconvenient to some heads of government.
Gonsalves told the I-Witness News on Saturday in Fitz Hughes that the meeting will discuss the regional economy and what the region can do together to address the challenges.
The course of action will involve deepening the regional integration movement and sorting out better the freedom of movement issues, Gonsalves said.
Climate change and disaster preparedness will also rank high on the agenda.
“We have to address, in a more focused manner, climate change and disaster preparedness — all the dimensions of it. And that is a big item of practical importance,” Gonsalves said.
The meeting will also focus on crime and citizen security. Gonsalves said this is one of the reasons why he asked that the meeting be postponed to March 10 and 13, after Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Kamla Persad Bissessar, travelled to China in February.
“I want crime and security to be discussed and she is the lead prime minister on this issue in the region,” Gonsalves said.
The meeting also hopes to sign off on some of the matters regarding CARICOM’s trade agreement with Canada.
There are some newer issues, including the report on the regional commission on reparation, and the issue of medical marijuana, which Gonsalves placed on the CARICOM agenda last year.
“Those are newer ones, and then the sturdy perennial — the governance issues,” Gonsalves said of the agenda.
He further spoke of a report on marine and air transport from CARICOM’s transport commission.
“But the work on the transport commission is not as far advanced as the work on the economic commission,” said Gonsalves, who is also CARICOM’s lead spokesperson on transportation.