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Deepened integration, security key to CARICOM sustainable development – Hon. Persad-Bissessar

(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana)     Immediate Past Chair of the Caribbean Community, the Hon. Kamla Persad-Bissessar on Monday underscored the critical importance of deepened integration and security to the sustainable development of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

In her address to the opening session of the 25th Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM, underway in Buccament Bay, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago said that sustainable development could only be achieved through the free movement of people, good and reliable transportation across the Region.

She made those remarks in the context of ongoing work of the CARICOM Commission on the Economy which is tasked with advising the Conference of Heads of Government on a programme for achieving growth in the Region. A preliminary report from the Commission, chaired by the Hon. Darcy Boyce, Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister, Barbados, will be presented to the Conference.
Creating a nexus between deepened integration and the process of reform ongoing in the Region, the Prime Minister said that she was expectant of the Conference’s deliberations on the strategic priorities for the Community.

Of equal significance to the Region’s sustainable development, Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar said, was decisive cooperation to eradicate the threat that crime posed to the safety of the people of CARICOM. She said that Trinidad and Tobago placed much emphasis on this issue and in that context, was devoted to the ratification of the United Nations (UN) Arms Trade Treaty. This was demonstrated by Trinidad and Tobago’s CARICOM-endorsed bid to host the Secretariat in Port of Spain, she said.

Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar lauded the move by CARICOM Member States to become signatories to the Treaty, which she said had provided a “significant component in the global fight against the trade of conventional arms in illicit markets.”

In urging all CARICOM Member States to join Iceland, Guyana, Antigua and Barbuda, Nigeria, Costa Rica, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, Panama and Norway in endorsing the Treaty, she said that it was imperative to do so before it became operational, to retain an influential role in the settlement of outstanding issues.

As the Region sought to strengthen its security infrastructure, Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar noted the critical importance of ensuring the sustainability of the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS).

The Prime Minister said IMPACS continued to play a significant role in providing technical assistance to a coordinated approach to crime and security in areas including the Advance Passenger Information System, and the Regional Intelligence Fusion Centre.

CARICOM Member States, she added, had benefited from the Agency’s expertise in the negotiations for the UN Arms Trade Treaty and its current implementation phase, as well as provisions under the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI).

Calling for collective efforts to ensure the sustainability of IMPACS, Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar said that those mechanisms had resulted in several successful crime interventions including interdicting drug traffickers, identifying pedophiles, monitoring and preventing, where required, the movement of terrorist elements; and assisting national entities in identifying trends to mitigate the potential threats which could be detrimental to recovering economies.

She noted that Trinidad and Tobago had taken very seriously the augmentation of its national progress to Regional success, and in this vein, she was expectant that recent engagements with US Vice President Joe Biden, and with the President of China, would redound to the benefit of the Region as a whole.
In encouraging the meeting to forge ahead with securing the future of CARICOM, she said: “To attain that secure future, to build sustainable development and progress, we must be willing to not only do the work that is required, but also take the tough decisions and fulfil our obligations.”

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