–Prime Minister Rowley tells stakeholders at opening of Agri-Investment Forum and Expo
WITH food security and reducing the existing food import bill high on the agenda for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Keith Rowley, has opined that there is a need for the development of a policy that would allow for the creation of a single business register for regional companies.
The Trinidadian Head of State pitched his idea during the opening ceremony of the Agri-Investment Forum and Expo at the National Cultural Centre, on Thursday.
There, he said that having a system where businesses would not be required to go through the process of registering in each CARICOM state, would significantly boost the efficiency of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
“My colleague from Barbados [Prime Minister Mia Mottley] and I talked about this idea of having within this single market and economy, a single company register where once a company is registered anywhere in the CARICOM it is deemed to be registered everywhere in the CARICOM. That is a simple straightforward way of encouraging entrepreneurial recognition under the law that will remove a lot of impediments,” Dr. Rowley related.
He said that as part of CSME, provisions have been made for the ease of doing business, as part of efforts to promote self-efficiency among the CARICOM states. But this is not always realised, given certain barriers which hinder and slow down the efficient operation of the single market and economy.
Dr. Rowley told stakeholders that the implementation of this register would be a “giant step” in advancing the agenda and effectiveness of the single market and economy to cater to growing needs, especially as it relates to food security.
The CSME seeks to implement provisions for the removal of trade and professional restrictions which govern the right to the establishment of businesses, provision of regional services, the free movement of capital, and the coordination of economic policies.
The fundamental aspects of CSME are consumer affairs; competition policy; social security; contingent rights; immigration arrangements for free movement of persons; administrative arrangements for commercial establishment; government procurement and trade and competitiveness in CARICOM.
Dr. Rowley believes that if systems are not put in place to allow CARICOM Member States to provide food security among themselves, there could be a situation similar to what prevailed during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, when there were supply shortages due to shipping woes.
“Nobody is going to give us food when food is in short supply. So if we don’t put arrangements in place to ensure that there is food for our people then who can we blame? We have to do it now so that the next time it happens, we will be in a better position, not a worse position,” Dr. Rowley posited.