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(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) Belize’s Attorney General and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, the Honourable Wilfred Elrington has called for a “fundamental change” in the country’s approach to education.

Speaking on the occasion of the launch of the Belize Coalition of Services Providers (BCSP), the minister said that emphasis should be placed on the service areas where earnings could be maximised. The launch was held on Wednesday, 11 March at the House of Culture in Belize City and Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), His Excellency Edwin Carrington, also addressed the ceremony.

Minister Elrington said that given the potential of the petroleum and mining industries, the education system must be geared towards providing such industries with the personnel required. “Education should be brought in line with the productive sectors,” he added.

He asserted that services providers were the “backbone of the Belizean society” as they generated the greatest amount of wealth in the country and argued that the agricultural commodities such as sugar, bananas and citrus had brought no real wealth to the people of the country.

He warned the service providers that it would never be enough to perform as well as their neighbours and citing tourism as an example, said that in order for the industry to grown in Belize, the services providers had to be better than their neighbours.

Chairman of the Interim Board of BCSP, Mr Orson Elrington, in brief remarks, pointed out that agriculture based economies were vulnerable due to prices and limited in terms of growth and expansion. He said services utilised the country’s most valuable resource, its people. He called on his colleagues to strive for excellence and providing first class service as there were lucrative opportunities for them to get a “bite of the billion dollar pie” that services provided in the world.

The BCSP is the eighth Coalition formed within the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) and by the end of April there will be 10 with the coming on stream of coalitions in Antigua and Barbuda and Grenada. These coalitions are being formed to increase exports of services within the Single Market and between the CSME and Third Countries, to establish standards for professional, to organise non-organised professionals and to provide technical and other inputs into trade-in-services negotiations. It is expected that the national bodies would come together to form a CARICOM Coalition of Service Industries.

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