Caricom Secretary General says reform of regional body is taking shape

GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CMC) – Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (Caricom), Irwin LaRocque says the framework of the regional body’s reform process has started to take shape.

In his end of year message, LaRocque noted that reform is challenging but it is essential in order to confront the ever-changing nature of the global environment.

“This reform is not an end in itself but a means of ensuring that the citizens of Caricom derive the maximum benefit from our integration process. At the end of it all, our regional integration process would be much more efficient and effective, in serving the interests of our people.”

He said one major factor in advancing those interests is the operation of the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME) and heads of Government have called for a comprehensive review that is currently being undertaken.

“We are also looking at how we can re-calibrate the CSME to make it more responsive to address issues of growth and competitiveness. In this regard we will work with Member States to accelerate implementation of the elements of the CSME and in utilising its provisions give our Community the best chance of establishing the socio-economic platform for prosperity.”

He added that Caricom is using information technology to simplify some of the administrative procedures, which allows citizens to benefit from the CSME.

The CSME Application Processing System (CAPS) streamlines and harmonises the skills and services processes and allows persons to apply for their skill certificates online and will eventually allow for payments to be made and all approvals, including issuing of the certificates online.

LaRocque said the roll out has begun and will be in more countries in the coming year.

The Secretary General also pointed to the power of unity and the instinctive togetherness of Caribbean citizens particularly in times of disaster.

“This was amply demonstrated once more as we went into action to assist those of our Member States affected by the passage of Hurricane Matthew. The hardest hit countries, Haiti and The Bahamas, are still in recovery mode, particularly Haiti where the storm cut a wide path of devastation.”

He praised the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) as the organisation co-ordinated the recovery efforts and also noted that the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF), honoured their financial commitments to those countries whose level of destruction triggered the compensation clauses in their insurance policies.

The Secretary General also made note of milestones – such as the Golden Jubilee celebrations in Barbados and Guyana and the region’s success at the Rio Olympics.

He said as the Caribbean prepares to greet 2017 with the uncertainties on the international scene and the continuing issue concerning correspondent banking, “the strength of our integration movement gives us a solid platform upon which to build our resilience.”

“In that regard, our Heads of Government, Ministers, Officials and staff of our regional Institutions continue to demonstrate their leadership and commitment to the integration process. From my interaction with our stakeholders in civil society, the private sector and among the youth there is widespread support for creating the viable Community for All that we are working towards. The same is true in respect of the many International Development Partners who are engaged with us.”

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