THE Prime Minister was unfazed by Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ alleged walkout from a recent Caricom meeting in St Lucia in protest at Jamaica’s donation to the Caribbean Development Fund (CDF.) “One prime minister took a deep breath and we continued with our meetings,” he reported.
At a briefing on Friday at Piarco International Airport, Rowley said the CLF is used to take donations from bigger countries to give to smaller countries as compensation for the former dominating the latter’s national economies under Caricom’s trade treaty, the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME.)
Rowley brushed off Holness’ walkout, saying each country had a position on matters such as the CLF.
“It cannot be said in Jamaica that the PM did not defend his country’s position.”
Referring to "games," Rowley said TT does not usually take a role of referee. He said TT paid US$5 million to the fund out of its US$40 million commitment. Others were not so forthcoming but would pay when they could, even as he said the fund was subject of "vigorous discussion."
He said the CSME is very important to TT, to help local exporters for whom Caricom is their biggest market.
On security, the PM rejected the idea of a regional police force as unworkable, but supported the regional security system Impacs. Rowley did not think that any tourist would be deterred from visiting the Caribbean because of a security charge of US$2 on each airline ticket, already imposed by the Barbados Government. Jamaica won’t pay but remains in the system, Rowley said.
While the region was fortunate that its tourism was not threatened by terrorism, he warned of the dispersal of individuals under order from zones of war. “We are not without risks,” Rowley said. He said Caribbean nations must use information from larger countries gathered about individuals who might want to harm us. “There is also a need for a rapid response mechanism.” The PM said TT will soon ratify a mutual arrest treaty so an errant citizen of a Caricom country can be arrested in another Caricom territory.
On climate change, Rowley said TT aims to have 10 per cent of energy used coming from renewable sources by 2025. He said Cabinet will approve a policy on energy conservation, as he lamented, “We consume energy recklessly. All that is going to have to change.” On natural disasters he said the time to act is before disaster strikes, not after, as he vowed new schools and the new block in the Port of Spain General Hospital will be built in line with stringent standards of building in quake-prone California.