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Five Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community and CARICOM Secretary General turned the sod as a symbolic start for the building of the permanent headquarters of the CARICOM Secretariat at Liliendaal, Georgetown, Guyana.

Chairman of CARICOM Dr. Hon. Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada, host President Her Excellency Janet Jagan of Guyana, Rt. Hon. Owen Arthur Prime Minister of Barbados, Hon. Basdeo Panday Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Hon. Kenny Anthony Prime Minister of St. Lucia and CARICOM Secretary General took part in the historic event on Wednesday 25 February 1998.

Dr. Mitchell said the day was “extremely important and significant” since it was the start for “the putting up of the permanent headquarters of the CARICOM Secretariat, which was laid by our founding fathers.” He urged Guyana to continue playing its crucial role in the integration movement of the Region.

Secretary-General Mr. Edwin Carrington was pleased that this first step to build the headquarters was taken during the silver jubilee of CARICOM and expressed optimism that construction of the complex would follow soon. Mr. Carrington noted that the construction of the complex would enhance the institution’s efficiency and its preparedness to enter the Twenty first Century. He observed that the location of the permanent headquarters would be ideal with the University of Guyana bordering it and the Ogle airport, which is to be upgraded to a municipal airport, about five minutes away.

“Turning the sod gives me great pleasure, but turning the key would be even better,” he said.

President Jagan also stressed the significance of the event taking place in the 25th anniversary year of CARICOM. She mentioned the importance of proper accommodation for the CARICOM Secretariat for its effective functioning and used the opportunity to reaffirm the commitment of Guyana to the Integration movement.

Through the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GUYSUCO) 14 acres of land was made available for the CARICOM headquarters and convention centre. A further 26 acres will be put out to public tender in the Region for the development of commercial enterprises and residential purposes. GUYSUCO’s chairman, Mr. Vickram Oditt, said the organisation was pleased to make the land available.

Also present were members of the Guyana cabinet, members of the diplomatic corps and staff of the CARICOM Secretariat, including the Deputy Secretary General Dr. Carla Barnett.

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