Premier Romeo Briefed on Montserrat-CARICOM Relations

BRADES – Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary General Ambassador Irwin Larocque visited Montserrat on Monday, April 13, 2015 to brief the Hon. Premier Donaldson Romeo on the Governance arrangements within the union as well as some key issues on the Community’s Agenda.

Mr Larocque shared with the press information on the CARICOM Reform Process, which he says uses a resilience model which Montserratians are very familiar with after surviving 20 years of volcanic activity.

Areas covered in the reform’s strategic plan include human resource transformation, shifting priorities towards Information Communications Technologies (ICT), renewable energy, statistics and health.

“This is a an exciting time for the reform process, which is not just about changing structures but shifting attitudes,” the Secretary General told the press.

Premier Romeo was also briefed on the Accession of Montserrat to the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas; Key issues on Disaster Management, a Status of Montserrat’s contribution to the Secretariat’s Budget, as well as a Status of Legal Instruments requiring signature/ratification by the Government.

The premier said he is more informed about the process and is prepared to do what is needed to move the process forward. “Now I and the rest of the team understand where we are going … as part of CARICOM.” He added that “whatever steps we make from here on need to involve our people. We have similar needs, similar challenges and similar opportunities and we need to unite.”

(From left to right) Shauna Harley, CARICOM Secretary General Irwin Larocque, Hon. Premier Donaldson Romeo and Hon. Minister of Trade Claude Hogan. (Discovermni Photo)
(From left to right) Shauna Harley, CARICOM Secretary General Irwin Larocque, Hon. Premier Donaldson Romeo and Hon. Minister of Trade Claude Hogan. (Discovermni Photo)

According to the briefing documents “since 2001, the Community has been functioning within the framework of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas including the Establishment of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). The Revised Treaty applies to all CARICOM Member States, except The Bahamas and Montserrat. Montserrat, like The Bahamas, had signed a Special Membership Agreement (January 2006), as it had not yet, at the time, received the requested entrustment from the Government of the United Kingdom which would have allowed for signature and ratification of the Revised Treaty.

“In a statement to the Thirty-Fifth Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government (July 2014, Antigua and Barbuda), the Government of Montserrat had indicated that it had received all necessary entrustments enabling its accession to the Revised Treaty. At their Thirty-Fifth Regular Meeting (July 2014, Antigua and Barbuda), Heads of Government acknowledged that Montserrat is a Member of the Community and pursuant to the Agreement between the Caribbean Community and Montserrat, signed in January
2006, is entitled to accede to the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas. In a statement to the Conference, then Premier of Montserrat, Honourable Reuben Meade, indicated that-
(i) Montserrat had received all necessary entrustments enabling the accession to the Revised Treaty;
(ii) Montserrat intended to deposit an Instrument of Accession to the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas at the Twenty-Sixth Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference, to be held in The Bahamas in 2015; and
(iii) In preparation for acceding to the Revised Treaty, the Government of Montserrat would introduce legislation into Parliament in September 2014 to incorporate the Revised Treaty, and would engage with the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) and the CARICOM Development Fund (CDF) to ensure concurrent accession to these entities.”

The Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Trade Claude Hogan, who prior to taking office was Montserrat’s Change Manager to CARICOM explained that the change of government in September 2015 halted progress on ratification of the treaty. Documents have already been exchanged with the UK Government, Minister Hogan explained but what must be agreed is the text which would allow for the island to accede to the treaty. “We should arrive at a complete text within this year,” he added.