Basseterre, St. Kitts, February 08, 2021 (SKNIS): Improving regional air and maritime transportation is crucial to advancing regional integration if the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) is to operate optimally, said officials working in St. Kitts and Nevis’ Regional Integration and Diaspora Unit (RIDU).
“We can’t get the CSME operational to the optimal point without dealing with transportation,” said Samuel Berridge, Assistant Secretary in the RIDU in the Office of the Prime Minister, on Wednesday’s (February 03) episode of ‘Working for You’.
The Assistant Secretary said that the issue of transportation has to be dealt with in earnest, however, there is a price tag attached.
“It is a cost, and somebody will have to bite the bullet – either the public or private sector. We would have to have a public-private partnership but then the public should not bear all the cost,” said Mr. Berridge.
His Excellency Lionel Sydney Osborne, Head of the RIDU, Ambassador to CARICOM, and OECS Commissioner shared similar sentiments and raised a very important point concerning air transportation.
“Is it a public good, or is it a profit-making exercise?” Ambassador Osborne asked. “And, if it really is a public good then one has to understand subsidies that are going to be required if we really want to move persons effectively, quickly… from one point to another. So, that I think is something which will have to be discussed,” he added.
In terms of rapid ferries, Ambassador Osborne, and Assistant Secretary Berridge shared similar sentiments noting that while some countries report success stories with sea transportation it has proven to be very difficult for others.
“The issue with that is public-private partnerships. The private sector wants to gain the profits, but they want to spread the cost,” said Mr. Berridge. “The same discussions which we have with LIAT in terms of spreading the cost now, Chapter six of the Revised Treaty of [Chaguaramas] speaks about transportation policy. You need to make it more effective, and then there are some less economic points.”
The RIDU officials reiterated the importance of improving regional transportation and noted that it will require multi-sectoral support.