REMARKS BY PREMIER SMITH ON CARIBBEAN COMMUNITY HEADS OF GOVERNMENT MEETING
Thursday, 11th July, 2018
First of all, I’ll just give an update on the conference I attended of the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). This took place in Jamaica between July 3 and 7.
This meeting was a very important one as Heads of Government from across the region met and deliberated on matters of critical importance to the Caribbean Community including strategies focused on building resilience in disaster management and recovery, the engagement of youth, crime and violence and security, evaluation of institutions and a renewed focus on partnering for development.
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has 15 Member States and five Associate Members. The British Virgin Islands is an associate member.
As we are in the hurricane season, we spoke about the disaster management and recovery programme. We recognise that we all have one thing in common and that is our vulnerability to national hazards.
We spoke extensively about the effects of climate change which remain key challenges to sustainable development, and we deliberated on innovative approaches that are now required in the era of what we call superstorms.
We also have collectively placed great emphasis on Comprehensive Disaster Management (CDM) which remains core to the achievement of a resilient Caribbean community. We all committed to promoting and maintaining the Regional Response Mechanism (RRM) coordinated by Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and at the same time enhance our physical infrastructure, social, economic and environmental policies.
Another critical part of the meeting for us was a discussion about the constitutional relationship of the Overseas Territories and the United Kingdom.
Heads of Government noted with great concern the amendment approved by the UK House of Commons to the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill requiring the UK Government to ensure that the British Overseas Territories, but not the Crown Dependencies, establish public registers of beneficial ownership information by no later than 31 December 2020.
I am pleased that Members expressed their solidarity with the territories adversely affected by this unilateral action to legislate in areas of domestic policy constitutionally devolved to the territories without the consent and involvement of their people.
It was noted at the meeting that the action ran counter to an alternate arrangement to public registers earlier negotiated and agreed with the United Kingdom government and put in place at great cost to the Overseas Territories.
In fact, Heads of Government viewed this action as similar to the unilateral and punitive extra-territorial measures such as blacklisting and de-risking taken against their own countries’ financial services sector, also a critical aspect of their economies, despite their best efforts at transparency and compliance.
So we are pleased that as OTs we were able to secure CARICOM’s collective support in helping us to further address this issue of beneficial ownership.
Overall, it was an exceptional meeting.