Coordinated approach essential to integration movement
- Bahamian Prime Minister
Guyana Chronicle
July 6, 2002

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BAHAMIAN Prime Minister, Mr. Perry Christie, in his first address as his country’s Head of Government at the opening ceremony of the 23rd CARICOM Summit, called for an improved information and education flow to the region’s citizens.

Prime Minister Christie said this information must pertain to the CARICOM movement and its direct bearing on citizens and their involvement in the implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).

Reaffirming his Government’s commitment to the integration process, Christie said, “I wish to assure the Community that my Government’s attention is now fully turned to the implications for The Bahamas as a member of CARICOM under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.”

He added, “We appreciate the realities of the global environment and the importance of working with CARICOM in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).”

With regard to the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas and its entrenched element of free movement of CARICOM, the Bahamian Minister pointed out that his country already accepts more workers from other CARICOM territories than any other member state.

Christie highlighted his concern for the adverse effects of September 11 on his country’s tourism industry, and said that over the years the countries of the Community have become increasingly dependent on this Industry for employment and foreign exchange.

“This imposes upon us an obligation to ensure that our people are fully aware of the relationship between the quality of their lives and the quality of their contribution to the development of tourism,” Christie said.

Speaking on the integration process, Christie said that the Region’s people should view CARICOM as something that is relevant to their lives to the extent that they can “see, hear and feel CARICOM, its leaders and institutions as living, not as an intellectual idea”.

Touching on security and stability across the Region, as Member States seek to grapple with increased levels of criminal activity, Christie remarked The Bahamas has adopted a coordinated approach to the alarming crime rate through the establishment of the Regional Task Force on Crime.

The Task Force has been charged with examining the causes of crime in the Region, the Bahamian leader said, and he noted that his government intends to carefully study its report and recommendations.

Citing illicit narcotic trafficking, illegal firearms and other related crime as the underpinning elements of most of the Region’s criminal activity, Christie called for the adoption by CARICOM leaders of more diverse levels of support from “producer and consumer States alike”, in their common struggle against the crippling effects of crime.

The Bahamanian Prime Minister affixed his signature to the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas on Thursday, as a sign of his country’s commitment to the ongoing Regional integration movement, which now seeks to pave the way for the free movement of goods and services across the Region. (Government Information Agency - GINA)