Above: Barbados PM Freundel Stuart
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart addressed the CARICOM Meeting of Heads of Government at its opening ceremony last night in Basseterre, St Kitts, telling assembled leaders that Barbados was committed to Caribbean integration but suggesting a measured approach to the issue of freedom of movement.
Stuart said that the building of a “truly West Indian Nation” was as much a priority for him as it was for his predecessors. Barbados, he told the conference, was “unequivocally committed” to Caribbean integration.
Stuart was joined by CARICOM Secretary-General Lolita Applewhaite at the event’s opening ceremony and Desire Delano Bouterse, president of Suriname.
Despite optimism for Caribbean integration, however, Stuart said that the Single Economy was still a work in progress, however.
“While recent negative events have revealed the high degree of financial interdependence that already exists in our region,” he said, “we cannot pretend that our efforts at macroeconomic convergence have reached the point that would allow us to create and, more importantly, to sustain a single economy.”
According to Stuart, the existing CARICOM timetable is not achievable.
On the subject of freedom of movement, the Barbadian prime minister said that though the country supported complete unrestricted freedom of movement, it could only be done through “a phased and managed approach which does not strain the absorptive capacity of those countries which are the principal recipients and produce severe skills deficits in those which are the principal exporters.”
Stuart was addressing the CARICOM Meeting of Heads of government for the fist time.