Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda and Chairman of CARICOM, the Hon. Gaston Browne will on Monday chair the Forty-Second Regular Meeting of the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community with a wide range of issues down for discussion.
Prime Minister Browne said that there are at least twenty-two items on the agenda for the two-day meeting which will be held virtually. Among the issues to be discussed is COVID-19 and its impact on the region. “We will look at the whole issue of vaccine equity and continue to advocate for developed countries to make vaccines available to us. We have been successful with the United States and one of the recommendations would be for us to push the United Kingdom to give us a commitment because they have had a relatively high level of vaccinations. And I think that they should be in a position to share some of the surplus of vaccines with the region,” Prime Minister stated.
He outlined that the UK is one of our major travel corridors and the challenge for the region is the risk of transmission between the UK and the Caribbean region. “We need to ensure that the residents and citizens of both areas are fully vaccinated,” he said.
Prime Minister Browne also outlined that there is an issue of anti-microbial resistance which will be addressed by the distinguished Prime Minister of Barbados. He said that the issue of single market and economy will be addressed and Heads must seek to have it fully operationalized. “We think that we need to accelerate the single market and economy as part of the response to COVID and to fuel our robust economic growth post COVID,” PM Browne said.
“Antigua and Barbuda would have placed an agenda item for Tuesday for the revival of regional transportation. There are numerous airlines in the region that are suffering as a result of COVID, and I believe that some would have actually turned a loss of about 25 million US dollars. We understand that we will be facing challenges from time to time and these challenges should be dealt with head on. We must work in lockstep with each other to preserve our institutions. Sustaining these regional institutions is very important for the advancement of the people of the region. So Antigua and Barbuda will speak to that issue within the context of reviving regional air transportation,” said the Prime Minister
He also noted that Antigua and Barbuda will be recommending that all Caribbean countries commit to cutting import taxes in order to increase the demand for regional travel. A paper will be presented within the next 14 days by the Caribbean Development Bank to advise the various countries on a package of incentives and measures in order to increase the demand for travel within the region and provide a level of business for the region’s airlines.
Also on the agenda for the two-day meeting is the advancing of the CARICO Agri-Food Systems Agenda – Prioritising regional food and nutrition security and the development of a joint tourism policy.
The issue of the political situation in Haiti, Crime and Security, tax transparency, blacklisting and de-risking, and the adequacy of the Caribbean Court of Justice Trust Fund will form part of the caucus items.
Antigua and Barbuda’s delegation to the meeting also comprises Foreign Affairs, Trade and Immigration Minister, the Hon. E. P. Chet Greene; Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to CARICOM, His Excellency Dr. Clarence Henry and Foreign Affairs Advisor Ambassador Colin Murdoch.
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