Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 16th 2013 Contents Caribbean Community (Caricom) ministers
of transport will meet in St Vincent and the
Grenadines later this month and are likely to
make recommendations that will go before
regional leaders at their annual summit in T&T
in July on the vexing question of air and mar-
itime transportation in the Caribbean.
Caricom Secretary General Irwin La Rocque
told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC)
that last week, a task force of air transportation
officials met to discuss a review of the Caricom
Air Multilateral Services agreement.
"The one that we have in place existed prior
to current Treaty of Chaguaramas (that governs
the regional integration movement) and (are)
inconsistent in some aspects," he said.
La Rocque said that the transport ministers
meeting schedule for May 27-29, will most likely
be attended also by executive of airlines servicing
"We intend to invite the three major regional
airlines to sit down with us at the table and to
see how there can be greater cooperation in air
transportation issues. I am referring to Caribbean
Airlines, LIAT, Suriname Airways and there may
be others at well."
The four shareholder the governments of LIAT--
Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica and
St Vincent and the Grenadines--have been critical
of the decision by the T&T government to provide
Thursday, May 16, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
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Transport ministers to meet on airline issues
a fuel subsidy to the state-owned CAL.
St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr
Ralph Gonsalves, who chairs the LIAT shareholder gov-
ernments, said the subsidy, which was estimated at
US$40 million last year, is a violation of the Caricom
treaty and Common Air Services Agreement among
member countries, resulting in substantial losses to
Gonsalves said the LIAT shareholder governments
have agreed to provide a summary of a legal opinion
to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar regarding
the "unfair" subsidy as he insisted that the Antigua-
based airline does not want a fight with Port-of-Spain
on the issue.
Gonsalves told reporters as a result of the legal opinion
given to LIAT, the shareholder governments had various
options including taking the matter to arbitration, going
before the tribunal of the Trinidad-based Caribbean
Court of Justice (CCJ) as well as citing "rules of imper-
missible subsidies" under the articles of the Caricom
He said the governments were also open to going
before the Caricom Anti Competition.
La Rocque said: "I think we have to keep on trying
to see how we can address that issue. That will be done
in St Vincent and the Grenadines under the chairmanship
of the lead head responsible for Transportation (Prime
La Rocque said he would not comment on whether
or not the subsidy to CAL is a violation of the Caricom
treaty, telling CMC "it is a problem, it is an issue in
the sense that it may be giving a competitive edge but
I don t know that is a matter that is going to throw
cold water on anything (such as the formation of a
single Caribbean airline).
"I think the desire to solve the transportation issue
is a real one and it s there and I think the way to approach
it is to have discussions on these matters, but I don t
think that is going to be the major issue to be discussed.
"I think that we have to try and find a solution to
the transportation problems that are plaguing us in the
Community, not only in terms of inter regional travel,
but sometimes through the region. Our tourism depends
on it, our trade and services...depend on transportation
so we have to find solutions to our issues.
La Rocque predicted it would not be an "easy solve"
noting "we have been talking about transportation and
trying to find solutions for quite a while. It is probably
one of the most difficult topics facing us in terms of
our integration agenda," he said.
Gonsalves told reporters he had raised the subsidy
issue at the last Caricom Inter-sessional summit adding:
"I want to have another conversation on that matter..."
Irwin La Rocque
Dr Ralph Gonsalves
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