CARICOM Secretary General Dialogues with Local Youth

CARICOM Secretary General His Excellency Irwin LaRocque dialogue with youth from St. Kitts and Nevis

Basseterre, St. Kitts, September 02, 2011 (SKNIS): The commitment of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat to support youth development as well as opportunities available to young people under the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) were among key issues discussed by the Community’s Secretary General His Excellency Irwin LaRocque and youth from St. Kitts and Nevis.

The meeting, which lasted more than two hours, was attended by a segment of young people who participated in the 2009 CSME exchange programme dubbed “Students Engaging the CSME through Field Promotion” as well as designate members of the CARICOM Youth Ambassador Programme (St. Kitts and Nevis).

Senior Youth Officer Kennedy Pemberton sat in on the discussion on Wednesday and noted that the interaction between the Secretariat staff and the local youth was productive.

The Secretary General “really wanted to find out from young people what was the feeling about CSME on the ground and how much did the normal man on the street know about it?” Pemberton explained to SKNIS.

The CARICOM Secretary General and designate members of the local CYAP

Challenges highlighted included the disparity of benefits for larger countries such as Trinidad and Jamaica which are more industrialized versus smaller countries like St. Kitts and Nevis which possesses no natural resources. Additional issues cited a lack of knowledge among the population base, immigration disputes at various ports of entry regarding the free movement of persons with a skills certificate, competitive disadvantages for small and medium companies under trade rules, as well as limited access to educational services provided at the main campuses of the University of the West Indies.

Secretary General LaRocque admitted that there is still a lot of work to be done regarding the education and implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and the execution of the economic aspects. He provided advice on some of the ways youth can become more empowered via CSME and promised to encourage member states to do more to sensitize personnel in the relevant local institutions and the public about the procedures of the landmark arrangement.

The young people were appreciative of the opportunity to exchange ideas with the senior CARICOM official and were reportedly energized in their task to promote regional integration.

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