-points to need to make CSME more response
As difficult and challenging as reform is, it is absolutely essential in order to confront the ever-changing nature of today’s global environment.
This assertion has been made by Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, in his end of year message.
“When the history of this year is written, it will record that the seeds of change in our Secretariat and our Community began to bear fruit in 2016,” said LaRocque as he pointed out that “the framework of our reform process has begun to take shape both within the Community and its Secretariat.”
According to LaRocque, reform is not an end in itself, but a means of ensuring that the citizens of CARICOM derive the maximum benefit from the process of integration. At the end of it all, he noted that the regional integration process would be much more efficient and effective, in serving the interests of the people of the Community.
He noted that one of the major factors in advancing those interests is the operation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
Heads of Government have mandated that a comprehensive review of the CSME be conducted. “We are undertaking that review. 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,” said LaRocque.
He added, “We have also taken steps through information technology to simplify some of the administrative procedures which allow our citizens to benefit from the CSME.”
The CSME Application Processing System (CAPS) streamlines and harmonises the skills and services processes. It 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. The roll out has begun and will be in more countries in the coming year, LaRocque has noted.
”The interests of the private sector are also engaging our attention as steps are being taken to ease the conduct of doing business in our Region,” said LaRocque as he pointed out that “The power of our unity and the instinctive togetherness of the people of our Community were amply demonstrated once more as we went into action to assist those of our Member States affected by the passage of Hurricane Matthew”.
The Secretary General, however, noted that the hardest hit countries, Haiti and the Bahamas, are still in recovery mode, particularly Haiti, where the storm cut a wide path of devastation.
The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) performed yeoman service as they co-ordinated the recovery efforts which were also boosted by efforts from the government and people of many Member States, LaRocque said.
The Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF), a unique disaster-related financial service initiated by CARICOM, also honoured their financial commitments to those countries whose level of destruction triggered the compensation clauses in their insurance policies.
However, LaRocque noted that “we have also had cause for special celebrations this year as Barbados and Guyana marked their Golden Jubilee as independent countries. Our athletes, led by the incomparable Usain Bolt, made the Region proud at the Rio Olympics. Our cricketers recorded a historic treble as champions in the Men’s and Women’s International Cricket Council World T20 as well as the Under 19 World Cup.”
But according to the Secretary General, as 2017 approaches with the uncertainties on the international scene and closer to home, the continuing issue concerning correspondent banking, one thing is certain. That is, “we will be better able to confront whatever challenges arise through being a united force. The strength of our integration movement gives us a solid platform upon which to build our resilience,” said Ambassador LaRocque.
In that regard, LaRocque said that Heads of Government, Ministers, Officials and staff of regional Institutions continue to demonstrate their leadership and commitment to the integration process. He noted that interaction with stakeholders in civil society, the private sector and among the youth, there is widespread support for creating the viable Community for all that the Community is working towards.
He added, “The same is true in respect of the many International Development Partners who are engaged with us…I must pay tribute to my staff at the CARICOM Secretariat for their dedication to the task and commitment to the ideal of integration. I must also thank our stakeholders and our partners for their continuing support,” LaRocque added.
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