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Seeds of change began to bear fruit in 2016 – CARICOM Secretary-General


Posted in: Press Releases | 23 December 2016 | 970

    Official-photograph-caricom-secretary-general2
    Official-photograph-caricom-secretary-general2

    “We have come to the end of another year of service to our Community.  When the history of this year is written, it will record that the seeds of change in our Secretariat and our Community began to bear fruit in 2016,” Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque said.

    He made the assertion in an end-of-year message in which he provided details of the strides that were taken in the reform process that the Secretariat and Community have embarked on.

    The framework of the reform process had begun to take shape both within the Community and its Secretariat, the Secretary-General said. He added that the Implementing Partners for the Strategic Plan, the Member States, the Regional Institutions and the Secretariat, were embracing the challenge as the groundwork for the cohesive approach had been laid.

     “As difficult and challenging as reform is, it is absolutely essential in order to confront the ever-changing nature of today’s global environment.  This reform is not an end in itself but a means of ensuring that the citizens of CARICOM derive the maximum benefit from our integration process. At the end of it all, our regional integration process would be much more efficient and effective, in serving the interests of our people.

    Please read the Secretary-General’s-end-of-year-Message

     

    End of Year Message

    by the Secretary-General

    of the

    Caribbean Community (CARICOM)

    Ambassador Irwin LaRocque

     

    We have come to the end of another year of service to our Community.  When the history of this year is written, it will record that the seeds of change in our Secretariat and our Community began to bear fruit in 2016.

    The framework of our reform process has begun to take shape both within the Community and its Secretariat.  The Implementing Partners for the Strategic Plan, the Member States, the Regional Institutions and the Secretariat, are embracing the challenge as the groundwork for the cohesive approach has been laid.

    As difficult and challenging as reform is, it is absolutely essential in order to confront the ever-changing nature of today’s global environment.  This reform is not an end in itself but a means of ensuring that the citizens of CARICOM derive the maximum benefit from our integration process. At the end of it all, our regional integration process would be much more efficient and effective, in serving the interests of our people.

    One major factor in advancing those interests is the operation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).  Heads of Government have mandated that a comprehensive review of the CSME be conducted.  We are undertaking that review.  We are also looking at how we can re-calibrate the CSME to make it more responsive to address issues of growth and competitiveness.  In this regard we will work with Member States to accelerate implementation of the elements of the CSME and in utilising its provisions give our Community the best chance of establishing the socio-economic platform for prosperity.

    We have also taken steps through information technology to simplify some of the administrative procedures which allow our citizens to benefit from the CSME.  The CSME Application Processing System (CAPS) streamlines and harmonises the skills and services processes.  It allows persons to apply for their skill certificates online and will eventually allow for payments to be made and all approvals, including issuing of the certificates online. The roll out has begun and will be in more countries in the coming year.

    The interests of the private sector are also engaging our attention as steps are being taken to ease the conduct of doing business in our Region.

    The power of our unity and the instinctive togetherness of the people of our Community were amply demonstrated once more as we went into action to assist those of our Member States affected by the passage of Hurricane Matthew.  The hardest hit countries, Haiti and The Bahamas, are still in recovery mode, particularly Haiti where the storm cut a wide path of devastation.

    The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) performed yeoman service as they co-ordinated the recovery efforts which were also boosted by efforts from the government and people of many Member States.  The Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF), a unique disaster-related financial service initiated by CARICOM, also honoured their financial commitments to those countries whose level of destruction triggered the compensation clauses in their insurance policies.

    However, we have also had cause for special celebrations this year as Barbados and Guyana marked their Golden Jubilee as independent countries.  Our athletes, led by the incomparable Usain Bolt, made the Region proud at the Rio Olympics. Our cricketers recorded an historic treble as champions in the Men’s and Women’s International Cricket Council World T20 as well as the Under 19 World Cup.

    As we get ready to greet 2017 with the uncertainties on the international scene and closer to home the continuing issue concerning correspondent banking, one thing is certain. That is, we will be better able to confront whatever challenges arise through being a united force. The strength of our integration movement gives us a solid platform upon which to build our resilience.

    In that regard, our Heads of Government, Ministers, Officials and staff of our regional Institutions continue to demonstrate their leadership and commitment to the integration process. From my interaction with our stakeholders in civil society, the private sector and among the youth there is widespread support for creating the viable Community for All that we are working towards. The same is true in respect of the many International Development Partners who are engaged with us.

    I must before I end pay tribute to my staff at the CARICOM Secretariat for their dedication to the task and commitment to the ideal of integration. I must also thank our stakeholders and our partners for their continuing support.

    I take this opportunity to wish each and every one of you a safe and joy-filled festive season and a happy, peaceful, prosperous and productive 2017.

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