Getting on board the CSME train

First Published: 2005-05-14

In a Tribune article the Chairman of the Financial Services Consultative Forum, Mr. Brian Moree makes the case against joining the CSME. His points are:

1) Joining CSME will inevitably lead to full integration with member states.

2) A single market with a multiplicity of currencies cannot work without major political adjustments.

3) Intergovernmental co-operation as now exists will change and the dominating supranational structure will be making critical economic and political decisions for Bahamians.

4) The economic benefits are minimal and lost sovereignty is the likely price.

5) The Bahamas has not signed the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas – and are thereby not bound to terms yet to be decided.

6) Once signed to Chaguaramas there is no turning back.

Former Minister of Finance Sir William Allen in a letter to the Tribune sets out his perspective for not joining. Highlights of his letter are listed here:

1) The economic case for joining has not been made.

2) It is not necessary to join CSME in order to be a part of the WTO process.

3) Economic integration with the CSME countries is not a requirement for co-operative decisions that may benefit the region.

4) Existing monetary policy can be addressed to encourage expansion of the capital market without joining CSME.

5) The development model for the Bahamas is "significantly" different from most other Caricom countries and the difference requires that the Bahamas be excluded from some of the key provisions.

6) Because the Bahamian economy is so different from other countries in the region there is no "intrinsic" value in joining – until/unless we become more like them.

Condensing ideas to simple statements are starting points for discussion. Joining the CSME will be a commitment to making profound changes in ways we cannot possibly anticipate.

In his talk to the Kiwanis Club Mr. Mitchell lists seven bureaucracies that will comprise the Caribbean Community from which he anticipates some benefit. Bureaucracies are notoriously inefficient and costly. How the Bahamas would benefit from more of them is not stated.

Embedded in Mr. Mitchell's response to Sir William there may be a list of reasons for joining. However the deciphering required suggests that Mr. Mitchell is not sure himself where the CSME train is headed. Therefore we are not climbing aboard.

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