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COFAP agrees on technical team for Haiti

Published on Saturday, January 31, 2009Email To Friend Print Version

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados: The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Council for Finance and Planning (COFAP) has agreed that a technical team should visit Haiti in the near future for discussions with the government on how the Community could assist in helping that country recover from the devastating effects of the 2008 hurricane season.

Making the announcement at a press conference after the 13th Meeting of the Council held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Bridgetown, Barbados on Thursday 29 January, CARICOM Secretary General Edwin Carrington said the decision dovetailed with similar plans by the CARICOM Secretariat.

Haiti was hit by four hurricanes and tropical storms within a month in 2008. CARICOM countries have rendered financial and material assistance to their fellow Member State in the immediate aftermath of the storms. This latest initiative would look at more long-term reconstruction efforts.

Thursday’s meeting focussed on moving the process of the CARICOM Single Economy and regional integration forward. The Council established a Technical Working Group to consider comments from Member States and Regional institutions with a view to finalizing the agreement on a CARICOM Investment Code.

This group would report to a special Meeting of the Council in late March or early April. That meeting would also consider issues related to the proposed Financial Services Agreement and receive an early report from a Task Force set up to develop regional strategies to lessen the effects of the global financial and economic crisis on the Community.

The Council also noted that the team of researchers mandated by the Heads of Government to inform the Strategic Plan for Regional Development would meet in Trinidad and Tobago from 16-18 February for their first exchange of views.

COFAP congratulated Member States on the fact that the first tranche of funds had been paid up to the CARICOM Development Fund. The Fund, which was established to assist disadvantaged countries, regions and sectors within the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), now stands at $US 69 million. It is expected to be fully capitalised at US $250 million.

The Ministers welcomed the news of the arrangements for the convertibility of CARICOM currencies in Suriname which was being facilitated by the Central Bank and the Commercial Banks. Secretary General Carrington said that the Surinamese action was based on the level of trade and travel between Suriname and the countries such as Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and the Member Sates of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) which trade in the EC dollar.

Barbados reported that its commercial banks were free to accept other currencies but had to undertake the settlement arrangements directly with their counterpart bank in the source state. The Council noted that given the relative stability of the Guyana and TT dollars the convertibility arrangements can be extended across the Community.

The Council agreed that a monetary cooperation protocol should be concluded among CARICOM States and that the technical study to be commissioned by the Secretariat should inform this process. The protocol would set out a programme for monetary co-operation and collaboration among Member States.

The Council approved proposals for advancing the existing and proposed harmonisation initiatives in respect of double taxation agreements, the corporate tax code and the regime of investment incentives.

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