Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller (right) is greeted by Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, when she arrived for the 25th Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), which officially opened on Monday. Photo: Yhomo Hutchinson
By Alecia Smith-Edwards
KINGSTOWN, St Vincent (JIS) -- Secretary general of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Irwin La Rocque, has called on member states to work together in a spirit of unity and solidarity.
This, he emphasized, must now be the central force that drives members to ignite growth in the different economies.
The secretary general was speaking at the opening of the 25th Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM on Monday in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
“We must summon that spirit of community, that clear understanding that we are all in this together. We are all CARICOM. We must be proud of what we have created as a Community and embrace that sense of being part of that Community by identifying with it unreservedly,” Rocque emphasized.
Meanwhile, outgoing chair of CARICOM, prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Kamla Persad-Bissesar, highlighted some of the successes of her tenure, including approval for the establishment of the Commission on the Economy, to advise on solutions that would lead to growth and development.
“The Commission’s work has already begun with a deep appreciation of the fact that sustainable development can only be achieved through the free movement of people and goods, and that reliable transportation across the region has become a top priority,” she said.
Persad-Bissesar also cited the agreement to establish a CARICOM Reparations Commission to shape the Community’s quest for reparations from the former colonial European countries, for native genocide, the trans-Atlantic slave trade and a racialized system of chattel slavery, as another key achievement.
She further informed that a regional dialogue on persons living with disabilities and special needs was also commenced in July last year, following which a high level meeting on the rights of persons with disabilities in the Caribbean was convened in Haiti.
Incoming chair of CARICOM, Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, reminded the heads that their political mandate is to ensure that what is fashioned in the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas establishing the Caribbean Community, including the CARICOM Single Market and Economy, is implemented optimally.
“To achieve this, we must first love and care for CARICOM. Secondly, we must ensure that the organs of the Community work as intended and that its decisions are implemented in each nation state of the community,” he said.
The three-day event kicked off with the eighth meeting of the Prime Ministerial sub-committee on the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Commerce and Trade in Kingstown on Sunday.
Over the remaining two days, deliberations were due to focus on information and communications technology (ICT), human resource development and sustainable development of the region’s economies.
Discussions will also surround the economic situation facing member states and the region, the CARICOM reform process towards the establishment of a five-year strategic plan for growth and development in the region, as well as issues of climate change, citizenship, security, reparations for native genocides and slavery and the use of marijuana for medical or health purposes.