While praising the Caribbean Community’s relatively successful management of the health aspects of COVID 19 this year, CARICOM’s incoming Chairman, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley of Trinidad and Tobago is challenging the regional integration movement towards stronger outcomes in the year ahead.
“Let this be the year that we make CARICOM work for us, as we build back better and construct the resilient society that will provide a safe, prosperous and viable Community for all of us,” Prime Minister Rowley said as he prepares to assume the Chairmanship of CARICOM on 1 January 2021.
“We have the tools to do it. 2021 must be the Year of CARICOM,” the incoming Chairman said in his just-released New Year Message.
Dr Rowley said the successful management of the health aspects of COVID-19 by the concerted effort of all arms of the Community – Member States, Institutions and the citizens, ‘demonstrated without a doubt that the answer to COVID-19 is CARICOM!
“In the recovery phase, we must employ the same collective, coordinated and focussed actions that allowed us to control the spread of the virus,” the Chairman said.
“Chief among these is the discipline to maintain the protocols that help to avoid being contaminated. The less strain we put on the health systems will directly benefit the economic and financial situation,” he added.
The Caribbean Community has signed on to the COVAX Facility through which to access the COVID-19 vaccine and with it the possibility of relief from the health and socio-economic challenges posed by the pandemic. However, Dr Rowley remined that it will not be ‘an immediate panacea for the ills brought upon us by the virus’.
“Even as we vigorously pursue the possibilities of support from the International Financial Institutions and other avenues, we must look at making full use of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) as our principal means of recovery,” the CARICOM Chairman said.
“It is that confidence in ourselves and our institutions, our intellectual capacity and creativity, and the platform we have laid which will lead us on the path to recovery” he added.
“Pursuing the plans to advance the CSME that may have been side-lined by the urgent needs of the past year must be a priority to help propel us out of the negative socio-economic outlook that has been forecast,” Dr Rowley said.
“Harnessing all of our resources, human, natural and financial, to lead this recovery process will be a clear signal of our maturity as an integration unit approaching its 50th anniversary. The example has been set time and again in adversity. That is the approach that we must adopt across the board to transform our Community post COVID and beyond.”
“As Chairman of the Caribbean Community, I wish you all a Happy New Year and please stay safe.”