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Remarks By the Secretary-General Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Ambassador Irwin LaRocque at the opening of the Thirty-sixth Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community


Posted in: Speeches | 02 July 2015 | Release Ref #: 104/2015 | 192

    CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque
    CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque

    Welcome to the Thirty-Sixth Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community.  The excellent arrangements for this evening’s Opening Ceremony is a fine example of how our hosts, the Government and people of Barbados, have organised this Meeting to create an atmosphere conducive to productive discussions.  The CARICOM family and guests are all beneficiaries of your gracious and generous hospitality.

     

    It is my pleasure to extend a special welcome and congratulations to the new members of the Conference, His Excellency Brigadier David Granger, President of Guyana, the Honourable Donaldson Romeo, Premier of Montserrat, and Dr the Honourable Timothy Harris, Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis.  We look forward to your contributions in advancing our integration arrangements.  The democratic process has also ensured that the Honourable Roosevelt Skerritt, Prime Minister of Dominica, maintains his presence in the Conference.  Congratulations on your re-election, Prime Minister.

     

    I also warmly congratulate the Honourable Dr Orlando Smith for having retained the Premiership of the British Virgin Islands following last month’s elections.

     

    Their presence here this afternoon is a result of our proud tradition of free and fair elections which are the bedrock of a politically stable society.

     

    Let me at this point express my gratitude and thanks to the   Rt Honourable Perry Christie, Prime Minister of The Bahamas, for his dynamic stewardship of the Community, over the past six months. Your shrewd guidance and unwavering commitment provided sterling leadership in these trying times.  Your extensive outreach activities served the Community well, regionally and internationally, and assured it of a prominent profile.  Thank you, Prime Minister.

     

    Mr Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen, our quest for economic, social, environmental and technological resilience aligns with the current global agenda.  The issues of, Climate Change, sustainable development goals, financing for development, technology transfer and capacity building are among the key areas under discussion, both within our Community and in various fora internationally. The development priorities identified in these negotiations will determine in what areas global resources will be focussed in the immediate future. And how the financial resources for development are to be dispensed, and the criteria for disbursement are crucial factors for our Community.

     

    Last September in Samoa, CARICOM and other SIDS came together and outlined our priorities for a successful conclusion to the negotiations on these most important issues.

    During this Conference of Heads of Government we will engage with our special guest, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, His Excellency Ban Ki Moon, to emphasise the urgency of the moment, as we seek to advance our sustainable development agenda.

     

    The unified approach that we have demonstrated in these negotiations once again emphasises the value of our foreign policy co-ordination. That co-ordination assumes even greater importance as we consider the systemic changes in the global and hemispheric political economy. In developing a vision for the place of this Community globally in the future, we need to appreciate our strengths which include, but are not limited to, our geographic location and our joint voice. We must also take into account that our small land mass is supplemented by vast marine resources. Co-ordination in ensuring that those resources are protected and used to the benefit of the Community, can add a new dimension to our integration efforts.

     

    Integral to the development of that vision is an appreciation of the fact that we are not alone in trying to achieve our objectives. Our growing list of international partners is as a consequence of our outreach to embrace like-minded states and establish new partnerships, while maintaining our traditional ties, as we seek to reposition ourselves and advance our interests internationally.  Our engagement with the President of Panama at this Meeting is indicative of that thrust.

     

    We are advancing our integration process even as we expand our global connections. The successful operation of the Single Market continues and in the near future its administrative procedures will be enhanced to the benefit of our private sector and skilled workers.

    The review of our education and human resource development systems is well underway as we seek to ensure that the people of the Caribbean Community are equipped with 21st Century competencies, to enhance our competitiveness and sustainability.

     

    Proposals are being put forward to stimulate growth in our economies and overcome the debt burden. Work is progressing towards establishing guidelines for a regime on fiscal rules to promote fiscal responsibility.

     

    Mr Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen, there is no doubt that among the key elements that would help us sustain a growth path and combat the stubbornly high unemployment rate is private sector investment and entrepreneurship. The entrepreneurial spirit of innovation, creativity and risk-taking is essential to succeed in an ever changing and increasingly competitive global marketplace.

     

    Just three days ago I was excited by the entrepreneurial spirit and activity of our youth, as we engaged in a social media event here in Barbados, across the Region and the diaspora highlighting that aspect of their development.  They demonstrated to me that creativity and innovation are alive and well in our Community and will help us to compete and succeed in this demanding and dynamic world.  Their belief and confidence in their abilities, and commitment to the Region, engender optimism in the future.

     

    This is embodied, for instance, by Warren Cassell Jr. of Montserrat, a sixteen year old, who started in business at age eight and from his small regional base, is using his skills at technology to provide services across the Region and further afield.  He is also an international bestselling author and a motivational speaker on a mission to inspire his peers to maximize their potential.

     

     

    Then there is Nolana Lynch of Trinidad and Tobago who started a successful company five years ago at age 22 and uses profits from her sales to fund sustainable development projects throughout the Community.  Ms Lynch has grown from providing friends and family with her product to a regional and international supplier. Her sustainable raw materials are supplied by rural woman producers throughout the Caribbean.

     

    These are but two examples of what the future of our Caribbean Community can be. Making use of their skills and using the platform of opportunities provided by our regional arrangements such as the Single Market and Economy, it is young people like Warren and Nolana who are showing the way towards a viable and prosperous society built on a regional foundation.

     

     

     

    They are demonstrating that the sustainable development of the Caribbean Community can be achieved with the marriage of our human and natural resources to our innate skills, innovative ideas and hard work.  The ingredients for success lie within us.  Unleashing the dynamism and creativity which have been the hallmark of our Region and using that distinctive Caribbean vibrancy to build our society on our own terms will put us on the path to create the resilience we need.

     

    In closing I am confident that the deliberations of our Heads of Government and the outcome of this meeting will advance the development of our Caribbean Community.

    I thank you

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