Regional heads grappling with transportation challenge

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – Guyana’s President Dr Irfaan Ali, on riday said Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders are prepared to hold discussions with the regional private sector on the issue of transportation in the region as efforts continue to reduce the Caribbean high food import bill as well as improve intra-regional trade.

“The leaders have made it very clear, we are willing to sit with such a consortium an come up with a menu of measures and incentives that will allow you the space to operate in a very viable manner and fixing the transport and logistic problem,” Ali told the opening ceremony of the three-day Regional Agri Investment Forum and Expo II.

“We cannot sit back in the private sector and expect that the government must create an environment all the time. The government is an enabler, it is an enabler…to open up the opportunities. We have to stop work in a selfish way in the region at every level and private sector need to come together, understand the scale of opportunity, scale their thinking up and go after the opportunity and put the pressure back on the heads in the region to say we are ready come on board and let us together form a partnership to solve this problem.”

Ali warned that if not then the private sector would give the regional leaders “no other choice but to go extra regional.

“You know I always say back home we like to gaffe a lot in the region. If we are to really move things forward it takes a collective approach and that is what we are pushing,” he said.

Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley said the region has to confront the difficult issues of transport with respect to the maritime and the air.

“Heads are working, but as I said at the beginning this is a work in progress and regrettably we have not yet reached the point where we can deal with this in a way that is necessary. We need to look at what air transport there is for the perishables and see how we can support the movement on it,” she added.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley told the ceremony that the free movement of services, of produce, products and finance within CARICOM “which is not taking place is probably the greatest impediment to any change in our circumstances”. (CMC)

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