CARICOM Leaders Seek Greater Focus on Prosperity for the People

(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) have rededicated themselves to achieving tangible results from the integration process with emphasis on job creation and improving the lives of the people of the Community.

The Leaders met in Retreat on 21-22 May 2011 at Teperu, Mazaruni, to continue their discussions on Prioritising the Focus and Direction of the Community which they initiated at their Twenty-Second Inter Sessional Meeting held in Grenada in February.

The Heads of Government emphasised the need to focus on building a greater sense of community and shared values as a Caribbean People and Society. They recognised that while the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) provided a platform for attaining further economic development of the Community, its ultimate goal was to provide a better quality of life and greater prosperity for the Peoples of the Community.

Against the background of new challenges which have emerged and the important trends of the future, they agreed to identify practical initiatives in specific economic areas which would redound to the benefit of the People of the Community, in the shortest possible time.

To this end, Heads of Government agreed that the current review of the Secretariat should take into account the strengthening of the institution to enable it to play an enhanced role in the area of mobilizing substantial resources for concrete projects in the areas identified. The restructuring should also allow the Secretariat to assist and advise Member States with implementation; offer greater technical advice and address its ability to provide practical deliverables in the immediate and long term.

They pointed to the fact that much had been accomplished in the Region in Human and Social Development, particularly in health and education, as well as in the establishment of the Single Market. They emphasised the need for greater public awareness of the achievements of the Community.

As regards the Single Economy, they recognised that the process towards full implementation would take longer than anticipated and agreed it may be best to pause and consolidate the gains of the Single Market before taking any further action on certain specific elements of the Single Economy, such as the creation of a single currency.

The Heads of Government recommitted themselves to the principles of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas. Although these were envisioned in an environment vastly different to that which currently exists, they remain as valid today as they were when the Revised Treaty was adopted in 2001. The challenges of that period remain and others have been added, some posing existential threats to the Region – such as climate change and the financial crisis.

By the same token, more opportunities for development have arisen for example, in the area of Information and Communication Technologies – both as an industry in its own right as well as an enabler of development. The Heads of Government agreed that greater advantage should be taken of such opportunities.

They reaffirmed their commitment to the Movement of Skilled Community Nationals and all the related decisions previously taken in that regard. Recalling their mandate to the Inter-Governmental Task Force to negotiate a Protocol on Contingent Rights in respect of those rights which were agreed, they underscored the need for certainty and transparency in according such rights.

In respect of Governance, they reaffirmed the decision taken at their Inter-Sessional Meeting in Grenada in February to await the completion of the current review of the CARICOM Secretariat, before taking any firm decisions towards the establishment of the Permanent Committee of CARICOM Ambassadors (PCCA).

Having received a report from the Search Committee which they had established to identify a new Secretary-General, they agreed that the persons short-listed for the position would be subjected to further processes, with a view to taking a final decision by July 2011.

They agreed to continue the dialogue on the way forward for the Community at their Thirty-second Regular Meeting in July 2011 in St. Kitts and Nevis.

Heads of Government in attendance were:

The Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Hon. Baldwin Spencer; the Prime Minister of Barbados, Hon. Freundel Stuart, the Prime Minister of Belize, Hon Dean Barrow, the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica, Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit; the Prime Minister of Grenada, Hon. Tillman Thomas (Chair of the Conference); the President of the Republic of Guyana, His Excellency Bharrat Jagdeo; the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Hon. Bruce Golding; the Chief Minister of Montserrat, Hon. Reuben Meade; the Prime Minister of the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis, Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas; the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr.the Hon. Ralph Gonsalves; and the Vice President of the Republic of Suriname, His Excellency Robert Ameerali

Saint Lucia was represented by Her Excellency June Soomer, Ambassador to the OECS and to CARICOM. The Acting Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community, Ambassador Lolita Applewhaite was also in attendance.

Heads of Government expressed sincere appreciation to the Government and People of Guyana for their gracious hospitality and excellent arrangements which facilitated their very fruitful discussions.

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