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End of Year Message by the Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Ambassador Irwin LaRocque

Posted in: Press Releases | 22 December 2016 | 1502

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

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

    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