Basseterre, St. Kitts, December 28, 2018 (SKNIS): In his New Year’s message, Incoming Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, said that 2019 “promises to be a year full of action” for the regional bloc “with a renewed vigour and determination to maintain the momentum with which we ended 2018.”
“This is the final year of our first five-year Strategic Plan and preparations have already begun for the second Plan which will build on the accomplishments of its predecessor,” he said, while underscoring the importance of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
“There is no doubt that the CARICOM Single Market and Economy is the linchpin of our efforts at sustainable growth and development and in the coming year we will be looking to further advance its implementation from what has been achieved in 2018,” he said.
When St. Kitts and Nevis hosts the Thirtieth Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of CARICOM Heads from February 26-27, 2019, Dr. Harris said that matters to advance regional integration will be foremost on the agenda, including a special session on Air and Maritime Transportation.
“An efficient and affordable transportation system would be a tremendous stimulus to trade and intra-regional tourism, thereby strengthening two critical aspects of integration,” the incoming chairman said.
Dr. Harris emphasized the urgency in curtailing the high rate of Non-Communicable Diseases in the Caribbean Community, which, if not stemmed, can adversely affect the health and productivity of the workforce and ultimately the sustainable development of the region.
“At the core of our trust for growth and development is a well-educated and healthy workforce,” said Prime Minister Harris. “Our Ministers of Health have agreed on a programme called Caribbean Moves which seeks to create a culture of regular physical activity and healthy eating through exciting, fun and supportive programs where people live, work, study and play. It is a whole society approach that we must embrace to tackle this continuing threat to our greatest resource.”
Additionally, Prime Minister Harris said that CARICOM will be making strides in implementing its Human Resource Development Strategy 2030, which moves to draft the new school curriculum with particular emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM).
“It is imperative that the young CARICOM citizens are adequately prepared for the global environment and for playing their part in helping the Region’s thrust towards sustainable development,” he said.
The St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister also said that he looks forward to the CARICOM being part of the celebration at CARIFESTA XIV, which will be held during the period August 16-25, 2019, in Trinidad and Tobago, under the theme “The Tangible and intangible—Connect, Share, Invest”.
“It is always an event to cherish and I have no doubt that the festival will once again live up to its billing as the premier cultural exposition in the Region,” he said.
Prime Minister Harris recognized the outgoing chairman of CARICOM, the Most Honourable Andrew Holness, Prime Minister of Jamaica.
“He has set a standard which, with the help of my colleague Heads of Government, the Secretariat and the regional institutions, I will strive to match,” the Incoming Chairman of CARICOM, Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Harris said.