CARICOM leaders advance integration process

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts & Nevis: Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders ended the 32nd Regular Meeting of CARICOM Conference of Heads of Government on Monday confident that they have begun the process of refocusing the Community to reflect the aspirations of its regional population.

Host Prime Minister and CARICOM Chairman, Dr. Denzil Douglas, said the four-day deliberations had been “very focused” and that the leaders felt they have laid the “platform for significantly advancing the regional integration process”.

He said there had been “major issues” dealt with by the leaders from the 15-member grouping including the “advocacy role” played by the Caribbean for the upcoming United Nations Non Communicable Disease Conference to be held in September.

However, Dr. Douglas acknowledged that the summit did not appoint a successor to Sir Edwin Carrington, the last CARICOM Secretary General who resigned in January after 18 years in the post.

He said that the leaders were “closer to an appointment” and that the short listed candidates would be interviewed in Barbados later this month by the Bureau of Heads and a final selection made.

“Following their interventions an appointment will be announced by the CARICOM Secretariat acting on behalf of the leaders,” said Douglas.

Douglas said that the leaders were pleased with the review exercise being carried out by the consultants with regard to restructuring the Guyana-based CARICOM Secretariat and also pledged to make a high priority “fully effective functioning single market to create an environment more conducive to job creation and investment to the region”.

He said that the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) was still an effective vehicle for the region, although he noted that the pace would be much slower than expected.

Douglas called on the private sector as well as the regional university to become more engaged in the development of the regional integration movement through their innovative ideas.

He said the region had agreed to back Dominican-born Dr. Clarissa Etienne for the post of Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the St. Vincent and the Grenadines diplomat Dr. John Ashe for the position of President of the United Nations General Assembly in 2013.

Guyana’s President Bharrat Jagdeo, who is barred by his country’s constitution from seeking a third consecutive term in office, urged his fellow leaders to highlight the positives of the integration movement, which he said would redound to the benefits of the ordinary citizen.

“We have to focus more on outcomes…people judge us on results,” he said, noting that CARICOM must refocus its priorities.

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