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Remarks By Ambassador Irwin LaRocque,  Secretary-General Caribbean Community (CARICOM)  AT THE THIRTY-FIFTH Meeting of the COMMUNITY Council OF MINISTERS   16 JANUARY 2015 GEORGETOWN, Guyana

Posted in: Speeches by admin | 16 January 2015 | Release Ref #: 05/2015 | 1508


    In welcoming you all to this first Ministerial Meeting for 2015, I wish you a Happy and Productive New Year.

    In extending that welcome, I do so especially to the Honourable Donville Inniss, Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business development of Barbados and the Honourable Francine Baron, Minister of Foreign Affairs and CARICOM Affairs of Dominica who are participating in this Council for the first time. We look forward to your active involvement and the fresh insights you bring to the issues before us today.

    As we begin today’s Meeting, I also wish to extend, on behalf of the Community, our collective sympathy to the Government and People of St Vincent and the Grenadines and, particularly, the families of those who died in the tragic vehicular accident of January 12. The loss of the youths was particularly devastating. We also wish a speedy recovery to those who were injured.

    Similar sentiments are expressed to the Government and People of Saint Lucia and the families of those who lost their lives on January 15, including two young children, also in a vehicular accident.

    Mr Chairman, Ministers, our Community has clearly started the year in a productive manner with this being the third session this week. I am certainly encouraged by the positivity which has been a factor throughout. This spirit is important at any time but certainly in this year, the first of our Five-Year Strategic Plan 2015-19.

    This Strategic Plan is a major element in the Community’s Reform Process and its approval by Heads of Government last July marked a significant moment in that process. Following on that approval, attention has turned to implementation and more specifically preparation of an Implementation Plan. A draft of that Plan was the subject of discussion on Wednesday among the three Implementing Partners, the Member States, the Regional Institutions and the Secretariat.

    This Council will consider the revised Implementation Plan today profiting from the results of the rich engagement among the implementing partners earlier this week.

    The positive energy that infused those fruitful discussions was a sign of the readiness of the parties to begin their work on fulfilling the objectives of the Strategic Plan to the benefit of the people of the Community. There was a full appreciation that each of us had a role to play in the successful implementation of the Plan. The enthusiasm and commitment displayed by all parties involved is testimony to the strong belief in the Strategic Plan’s potential to assist the Member States in meeting and defeating their current challenges.

    Our Regional Institutions worked closely with the Secretariat in designing the initial draft of the Implementation Plan. This is the kind of collaboration envisaged in the Strategic Plan. Their specialised areas of operation enable them to be the primary implementing agents for the Plan.

    The Member States, the beneficiaries of successful implementation, also have been playing their part.  Their input into the revised document before the Council today elaborated the relationship between the national and regional agendas.

    This new mode of operation in our Community is geared towards ensuring cohesion and working towards achieving common goals.

    A key group at the core of this approach and of the Strategic Plan is the Committee of Ambassadors. On Tuesday, CARICOM Ambassadors and the Change Drivers met to consider the proposed functions of this Committee.

    The idea for the Committee had been accepted by the Heads of Government in 2010 and since then the proposed role and functions of such a body have evolved through discussions in various fora within the Community.

    In the context of the Strategic Plan, the Committee is seen as providing that essential link between the national and regional agendas as well as being focussed on implementation of the Plan. During the discussions on Tuesday, the view was widely expressed that each Member State should establish a structure at the national level to support the effective functioning of the Committee.

    The Committee would therefore be ideally placed to add value to the work of this Council which has “primary responsibility for the development of Community strategic planning” as stated in the Treaty.

    Mr Chairman, Ministers, the Reform Process has taken root. Work has begun to implement the Strategic Plan. Steps are being taken to establish the governance and operational structures among all the implementing partners.

    2015 can therefore be a watershed year in the history of our Community. The effectiveness of acting together has proven itself time and again. Let us continue to use that strength in our on-going quest to provide a better life for the people of our Caribbean Community.