Challenges, achievements point to importance of Caricom, says Skerrit
GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CMC) – Outgoing Caribbean Community (Caricom) Chairman Roosevelt Skerrit has pointed to the significance of the regional body in the wake of challenges and achievements of the past year.
In his end of year statement, Skerrit, the prime minister of Dominica, noted that “acting in concert is our surest way of making the local, regional and international impact that is needed to deepen the Caricom integration movement”.
In the message released last Thursday, Skerrit said the region made steady progress to advance the integration movement this year.
He pointed to celebrations across the community for the Golden Jubilee Anniversary of the signing of the original Treaty of Chaguaramas.
“Under the theme ’50 Years Strong: A Solid Foundation to Build On’, we paused for reflection on the many seminal achievements since 1973 and recommitted to the vision of our founding fathers for a prosperous, unified community,” Skerrit said.
He also noted that during the 45th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of Caricom in Trinidad and Tobago in July, Caricom took the pivotal decisions to work towards the free movement of all Caricom nationals within the community and to advance measures to bring the regional capital market into being, with appropriate attendant amendments made to the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.
Concerning the 25 by 2025 food security, he said the initiative picked up pace, with several member states recording important initiatives to “reduce our food import bill and advance food and nutrition security for our people”.
“Our flagship event, the Caribbean Week of Agriculture, held in The Bahamas in April, allowed focused engagement with the private sector. A critical Memorandum of Understanding signed with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture will prioritise actions to combat food and nutrition insecurity, and improve the climate resilience of agriculture in the Caribbean.”
On the matter of regional security, Skerrit said this was brought into sharp focus “as we navigated escalating threats to our borders. We continued strenuous efforts, including through the interventions of the Caricom-appointed Eminent Persons Group, and international advocacy, to find solutions to the multi-dimensional crisis in Haiti and for a return to peace and stability.”
According to the outgoing chairman, to date, five consultations with stakeholders have been undertaken, with the last yielding a framework agreement to provide a transitional governance arrangement to take the troubled country to free and fair elections.
He added that stakeholders achieved consensus on several aspects of the draft framework and have agreed to continue discussions. Efforts have been further bolstered with the pledge of support from several member states to the Multinational Security Support mission which the United Nations Security Council has approved.
On the matter of energy, Skerrit said efforts to transition to renewable energy and increase energy efficiency were bolstered with the provision of US$20 million in funding from USAID to Caribbean companies with financial and technical assistance and business development services, through the Caribbean Climate Investment Programme.
“A Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee on Climate Change and the Climate Finance Agenda, with the support of the relevant technical experts and institutions, now provides coordination and oversight of the preparation for international climate change and climate finance negotiations.
“We continued to pursue targeted regional and international partnerships. A key outcome of these interactions has been the opening of the Caricom headquarters of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) in Barbados, to expand Africa-Caribbean trade and investment relations in critical economic sectors.”
Skerrit also expressed gratitude to his colleague heads of government, to leaders across the length and breadth of the community, and to the staff members of the Caricom Secretariat.
“Your contributions have helped to further our mandate of a Caribbean Community of which we can be proud. My fellow Caricom citizens, it is with collective will and action that we will achieve our goal of a prosperous, healthy and safe ‘Community for all’. Let us recommit to pursuing that goal in the coming year.”