Prime Minister, Hon. Bruce Golding, has described the 31st Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), held this week in Montego Bay, St. James, as successful.
Wrapping up proceedings at a press conference, this evening (July 7), Mr. Golding, who is also Chairman of CARICOM, said while some discussions may have been intense, the talks by the Heads of Government were constructive.
"Notwithstanding the fact that many of those discussions involved issues on which there were differences of views, I want to thank them for the constructive way in which the discussions were conducted. I want to pay tribute to the Secretary-General and the staff for the tremendous work that they did to make the conference the success that I think it has been," he told journalists.
During the conference, held from July 4 to 7, CARICOM Heads received and discussed several proposals for a new governance structure in the Community and agreed that a proposal for a council of permanent representatives would be discussed further.
The Heads also discussed CARICOM's role in Haiti's restoration, following the January 12 earthquake. Other topics included progress under the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME); the operationalisation of the Caribbean Agriculture, Health and Food Safety Agency (CAHFSA); and tourism related matters, such as the Air Passsenger Duty implemented by the United Kingdom, and a Regional Tourism Marketing Fund.
The Conference also saw discussions taking place on the economic and financial crisis, external trade negotiations, youth development, external trade negotiations, human and social development, crime and security, and climate change.
This year's Conference also saw attendance of a United Nations Secretary-General (Mr. Ban Ki-Moon) for the first time. The Heads were able to present their concerns on, non-communicable diseases, and peculiar vulnerabilities of indebted, middle-income countries.
The Heads also had a chance to exchange views with the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, and Secretary-General of the Organisation of American States, Jose Miguel Insulza, who were also in attendance at the Conference.
In accordance with the rotation schedule, Prime Minister of Grenada, Hon. Tillman Thomas, is slated to assume Chair of the Conference from January to June 2011. It is expected that the Grenada will set a date for the 22nd Inter-sessional Meeting of the Conference, which is usually held in the first quarter of the year.