BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS – Grenada, the Caribbean nation which assisted the Peoples Republic of China in the Ren Biao stand-off with St. Kitts and Nevis will host next month’s 38th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
The meeting takes place in Grenada from 4th to 6th July 2017, under the Chairmanship of the Prime Minister of Grenada Dr. Rt. Hon Keith Mitchell.
The CARICOM Secretariat said the Opening Ceremony on 4th July will take place at the Grenada Trade Centre.
Heads of Government will move to the Radisson Grenada Beach Resort for the business sessions on 5th and 6th July.
The Conference will welcome its two newest Members, the President of Haiti His Excellency Jovenel Moise who was sworn into office on 7th February, and the Prime Minister of The Bahamas Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis, who took his oath of office on 11th May.
This meeting is expected to include the presentation for approval by the Heads of a Human Resource Development 2030 Strategy and Implementation Plan to address the development of skills for the 21st century Caribbean economy and society.
The Heads of Government are also expected to deliberate on outstanding matters related to the implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) following the comprehensive review of the CSME’s performance presented to then at the last Inter-Sessional Meeting in February.
There is also expected to be an update on the preparations for CARIFESTA XIII to be staged in Barbados from 17th to 27th August under the theme “Asserting our Culture, celebrating ourselves.”
The work on the Commissions on Reparations and Marijuana is also expected to come under the spotlight.
So too, the progress made with implementing the specified actions, agreed a decade ago, under the 2007 Port of Spain declaration to stop the epidemic of Non-Communicable Diseases (NDCs). Regional Security issues are also expected to receive attention.
A highlight of the Opening Ceremony would be the presentation of the Triennial Award for Women to the latest recipient.
The Ceremony will be addressed by the two new Members of the Conference, the outgoing Chairman, President of Guyana His Excellency David Granger, the incoming Chairman, and the Secretary-General of CARICOM, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque.
St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris was absent from the Inter-Sessional CARICOM Heads of Government Meeting in January. No other government official attended that meeting.
China has accused St. Kitts and Nevis, which does not have diplomatic relations with the Peoples Republic of China, of fast becoming a haven for criminals by harbouring Ren Biao and accused Prime Minister Harris of being un-cooperative on the issue. Biao is wanted in China for defrauding a state-owned company of US$100 million.
China said it intercepted communication on April 16 in which the fugitive, who is in St. Kitts and is an economic citizen, called relatives in Beijing seeking an additional US$190,000 to help to continue pay for his protection by Kittitian authorities.
The Government first denied having formal information on the matter, but regional media outlet, CaribUpdate said its own investigation reveals that the Ren Biao matter was raised via Grenada with the Timothy Harris-led Administration in January this year.
There was a direct request made on the issue of Ren Biao in January to Miss Kay Bass, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in St. Kitts and Nevis from the Permanent Secretary of Grenada.
The regional media house said this was also followed by direct communications between the Head of the Financial Intelligence Unit of St. Kitts and Nevis, Ms. Jacqueline Berry and its counterpart in Grenada.
CaribUpdate further reported that at the meeting in Basseterre, officials of the Timothy Harris Government and law enforcement officers including members of the High Command were provided with details of the claims of financial impropriety.
The Head of the Financial Service Unit in St. Kitts and Nevis and the Head of counterpart in Grenada subsequently met in Basseterre in April this year on the Ren Biao issue.
CaribUpdate also said that Kittitian security officials met with Chinese security officials over the issue in early April this year after they were granted a visa waiver from Basseterre to enter St. Kitts and Nevis.
They were met on arrival at the Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport by St. Kitts security officials on April 14th and spent a week on the island.
After changing his location in St. Kitts, Ren Biao was held for questioning by police in Nevis and released.