Dr Keith Mitchell (FILE)
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CASTRIES – Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell has called on Caribbean countries to make sincere efforts to encourage easier intra-regional travel and do away with the heavy taxes that discourage free movement of the region’s population.
“We have to have more transport, sea and air transport. But if we have it and it is too costly, we still don’t have it,” Mitchell told the 40th annual convention of the ruling United Workers Party (UWP) in Vieux-Fort, south of here over the last weekend.
“So if Grenada has a pile of taxes on a ticket, St Lucia has a pile, Barbados has a pile, St Vincent has a pile, Trinidad and Tobago has a pile and making the ticket too costly for travel then we must drop taxes and let our people travel,” Mitchell said.
“We are not talking about dropping all of it, we are talking dropping (it) sufficiently to make the ticket easier for people to travel,” Mitchell said, supporting the idea by Prime Minister Allen Chastanet for a regional civil aviation authority.
Mitchell’s request comes less than a week after Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders met in Trinidad and Tobago to examine ways of improving the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) that allows for the free movement of goods, skills, labour and skills across the majority of the 15-member grouping.
The regional leaders have since agreed on a timetable to ensure that certain measures are put in place to facilitate the deepening of the regional integration movement through the CSME.
Mitchell told the UWP convention that there was a need to make “the Caribbean great again” even as he urged the region to build synergies and improve relations with global partners to enhance economic prosperity.
“The world must be made up of countries that understand philologically their own ideology and work together to improve the lives of the people of their own country.
“So I don’t subscribe to this philosophy of just make Grenada great again. Grenada can only be great, if St Lucia is also great again. So all the countries in the region we must all strive to make sure we all become great again or all remain great again,” Mitchell said.
The Grenada Prime Minister also called for greater unity in improving security across the region.
“So something happen in St Lucia, we should know in Grenada overnight. Something happen in Trinidad, we should know. Recently a gentleman shot two people in Trinidad and he ran to Grenada. Now if we did not have a very good system of checks that man could have been roaming in Grenada without anybody knowing,” Mitchell said, adding that the man was caught “within six days”.
“What I am saying therefore is that should happen in every single country. There should be no escape for criminals destabilising our society. Our children must grow up in a country of peace and stability,” he said.
Earlier, Prime Minister Chastanet, who was re-elected leader of the party, urged supporters to defend the government in the face of criticism from the opposition as it builds “an impressive track record”.
He said that the opposition had been critical of the economic policies of the government that are now bearing fruit
“We are going to the House (of assembly) on Tuesday and I hope many of you come and support us in which we are going to be borrowing US$150 million from the Taiwanese,” he said in order to pay for various development projects on the island.
He also promised to deal with the crime situation here. He said CCTV cameras will be installed in the northern section of the island later this month and the new telecommunication system for the police will also be in place.
“So I want to put the criminals on notice that their days are numbered. St Lucians are fed up and we will take it no more,” he told supporters. (CMC)