The thirty-seventh meeting of the conference of the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community opened on Monday, 4th July, 2016 in Georgetown Guyana. The honourable Prime Minister Allen M Chastanet made his maiden address as the newest Head of Government to join the Conference. His presentation focused on his vision for the reform of the Caribbean Community, the matters limiting our progress as a community and his key priorities for Saint Lucia.
As the newest Head of the Government he expressed his enthusiasms in collaborating ideas with that of other Heads in strengthening the region. “We do not take enough time to meet outside of conferences, to find win-win solutions that will benefit us all as a region.”
He noted that his recent mandate given to him by the people of Saint Lucia was based on a promise to build a prosperous Saint Lucia for the benefit of all. The Hon. Prime Minister Allen M Chastanet said, “Austerity measures have crumpled our economy while unemployment and poverty continued to rise.” The prime minister outlined his focused and ambitious plan to alleviate poverty, rebuild communities, reduce tax burdens and commit to youth empowerment and development. He also drew reference to his plans for rebuilding productive sectors and to generate revenue for social services.
The prime minister reaffirmed the need for the community to find immediate solutions that are cost-effective in delivering good governance. “More of our services like the police force, education, healthcare and aviation must be more integrated. More of our policies and structures that are languishing need to be reviewed or discarded so that new and more effective ones can be put in place.” The Prime Minister stands firm in his belief that CARICOM has made a commitment to the people and should deliver on a better way of life.
“Our excuse that progress is hampered by consensus is no longer convincing or acceptable. The recent referendum for Britain to exit the European Union has put the survival of integration into focus. Good governance must be at the heart of our reform process,” said the prime minister.
He also drew attention to the issues limiting tourism growth and promotion. “The importance of this huge income earner is not reflected in our deliberations and institutions . . . we need to develop a world-class industry which attracts more than 1.5% of the world’s tourism. Have we actually worked out what the potential of tourism is in our region? . . . We must stop the idea of determining how much we are going to spend on tourism, based on what it’s produced” he asserted.
On the issue of de-risking, he made suggestions of attacking it as a region with a joint focused strategy for correspondent banking.
He emphasised the need for greater commitment in creating scope for women in leading our regional organizations.
In closing, the prime minister expressed his keenness in making his contribution to the region, stating that “another day in poverty for one of my people, for one of the people in this region is another day that we are failing in our mandate to provide a better life for all.”