Published On: Mon, Dec 30th, 2013

CARICOM: End of Year Message

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

LaroqueCARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana - 2013 was a reflective and celebratory year for the Community as we marked our 40th Anniversary.  That we have come thus far is testimony to our determination and commitment to forge a common destiny as small unified States in this unique corner of the world called the Caribbean.  Our Anniversary Theme of ‘Celebration and Renewal’ remains relevant as we bask in our Caribbean-ness, rekindle the spirit of Community and continue our integration quest with an outlook that is shaped by new thinking and different approaches.

That outlook will be influenced by the necessity for appropriate responses to the current global environment which has placed Member States in dire straits, stymieing growth and development and denying us the wherewithal to create a better standard of living for the people of the Community.  Indeed, the vulnerability of our Member States and their capacity for resilience came into stark relief last week in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia and Dominica, when severe weather visited death and destruction and caused a setback to development efforts there.

The new outlook will also be shaped by the Review and Reform that we have undertaken at the behest of the Heads of Government.  We are on schedule to achieve early in the new year one of our key milestones - the completion of the draft Five-Year Strategic Plan.  The Plan was crafted following consultations with stakeholders across Member States and Associate Members.  The Plan will set out a common vision, identify our priority areas of focus over the period and will also address issues of implementability including the roles and responsibilities of all participants in the Community architecture.

Unsurprisingly, sustainable economic growth and development emerged as one of the primary areas of concern for stakeholders across the spectrum with whom the Change Team interacted over the past year, and it is our intention, through the efforts of the recently-established CARICOM Commission on the Economy, to explore possible avenues to put us on a sustainable path.  The Commission will provide advice on implementable solutions based particularly on the priority areas set out in our Growth Agenda.

For the Caribbean Community therefore, 2014 dawns with the promise of new directions, prioritization on the critical areas that will deliver more immediate and tangible benefits to our peoples, more strategic approaches and the continued emphasis on our youth and empowerment of our citizens.

I wish the entire Community Happy Holidays and a Prosperous and Productive New Year and pray for a speedy recovery in those Member States affected by the recent severe weather.

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