Incoming CARICOM chair prioritises benefits for people in 2016

Dean Barrow, prime minister of Belize, assumed the six-month chairmanship of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) from January 1, 2016, succeeding Freundel Stuart, prime minister of Barbados.

In a message to usher in the New Year, Barrow pointed out that there was a lot to be proud of and a lot to look forward to.

“People of the Caribbean Community, we have a lot to be proud of and a lot to look forward to. Let us strive to make 2016 one to remember as a landmark year for our integration movement,” he said.

“Our resolution is to continue to strengthen our integration movement to deliver ever-increasing benefits to the people of our Community. We will continue our quest to improve our standard of living through providing a safe, viable and prosperous Caribbean Community. In so doing we will build on our successes and will be moving forward with a number of initiatives to achieve that aim,” he continued.

Making a commitment to build on past successes and to become more efficient in the face of the “sternest economic test that member states have had to face in recent memory,” the incoming chair looked forward to increasing the pace both of the CARICOM Reform process and the implementation of the Community Strategic Plan 2015-2019.

The plan, which is designed to build CARICOM’s economic, environmental, social and technological resilience, has the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) as an important vehicle in that drive for greater resilience. Barrow therefore signalled CARICOM’s commitment vigorously to pursue the consolidation of the Single Market.

“We will be making our governance arrangements more flexible and dynamic. We will be continuing efforts in the coming year to revise those arrangements for our integration movement to become more effective and relevant to the needs of our people,” he said.

A significant element of his resolution as the New Year dawns is encouraging more member states to join Belize, Barbados, Dominica, and Guyana in making the Caribbean Court of Justice their final court.

“In my view, another relevant factor in the lives of our people is the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). The creation of our own jurisprudence will help define us as a people, and the excellent, well-reasoned judgements which have been the hallmark of the CCJ are ample proof of the intellectual quality of the legal minds of this Community. During my stewardship of the Community, I look forward to more member states joining the four of us in the Appellate Jurisdiction of the CCJ,” Barrow said.

He emphasised the strength in unity in achieving CARICOM’s plans, exemplifying the manner in which it rallied to attain the objectives of the three major international conferences in the past year, most recently at COP 21 in Paris.

“The binding decisions taken on Financing for Development, the 2030 Development Goals and Climate Change have great potential to boost our growth and development and bolster our resilience. It is therefore in our interest to use our coordinated foreign policy to advocate at every opportunity for urgent implementation of those decisions. In so doing we will be seeking the support of our international development partners as well as other small island and low-lying coastal developing states (SIDS),” the incoming chairman stated.

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