Caribbean heads of state to discuss blacklisting and financial regulation at the 30th Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

Added on 25/02/2019

Extract from, Monday 25th February, 2019.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Prime Minister Dr. Hubert A. Minnis will lead a delegation to the 30th Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), in St Kitts, on February 26-27, 2019.

Heads are expected to engage in several side meetings to advance diplomacy and bilateral agreements among Member States.

High on the agenda for The Bahamas are the recent Blacklisting by the European Union and the political unrests in Haiti and Venezuela.

Senior Policy Advisor to the Prime Minister, Joshua Sears discussed the importance of the Meeting, which takes place just months before Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community.

Inter-Sessional meetings came about after Heads discovered that many items on the Agenda for the Regular Meeting could not be adequately dealt with. Hence, a meeting in between is held to address any issues which might require urgent attention.

“But there are also special meetings by Heads which are called to deal with specific matters. For example, most recently Heads met to deal with the situation in Venezuela, and after 9/11 Heads met in special session to deal with that specific issue and the economic implications for Caribbean countries,” Sears said.

“So Inter-Sessional will give the Prime Minister and other Heads of Government a chance to assess some critical issues.”

According to Sears, the Intersessional Meeting covers a full slate of issues over a two-day period.

“Quite a lot can be done in two days. The Agenda has been set and streamlined to have focused discussions. There will be some long hours but that’s the tradition and we have no concerns about our ability to complete the Agenda,” he said.

Among the Agenda items are the CARICOM Single Market and Economy, Security issues, Blacklisting and Border Issues.

Just recently The Bahamas, and several other Caribbean countries, was placed on a European Union Blacklist, which requires additional scrutiny regarding financial transactions.

“For many years CARICOM has been advocating for a fair process and we will see now that that voice has resonated with developed countries,” Sears said.

The United States also made its statement on the EU’s process and it is anticipated that CARICOM Heads of Government will also renew their commitment to working together as a group to call for a fairer process.

“The entire CARICOM region is adversely impacted by these regulations,” Sears said, adding that, “The good thing about it is through the Financial Action Task Force countries agreed to recommendations to improve their financial sectors and by each country taking the necessary steps… we follow each other and adopt the best practices, Heads share their views, Central Banks Governors meet and they share views and they all work towards making these recommendations more relevant to address the financial concerns of the international financial community.”

Acknowledging that these are “vexing problems” for The Bahamas and CARICOM as a whole, Sears said that the developing countries within the EU feel that these centres are causing them to lose tax revenues.  “Personally, I don’t think that’s a justified conclusion, for them to take the steps they are taking particularly when countries have demonstrated their commitments to improving legislative framework and policy framework. I think they are misguided in that respect,” he said.