(CARICOM) Secretary General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque has singled out unity, commitment and innovative ideas among the features that helped to fashion a fulfilling 2015 in the region. “This past year has been a most fulfilling one for us in the Caribbean Community. The value of our integration movement proved itself at home and abroad as we continued our efforts to provide an improved standard of living for all our citizens. The progress that we have made on many fronts has been due to our acting in concert to secure the best option for our Community,” he said in an end of year message.
The Secretary General said he was confident that with initiatives underway, bolstered by the “tangible evidence of what our unity” could achieve, the region would provide “the safe, secure and viable society that will make us all proud to be citizens of CARICOM”. LaRocque added that sustained economic growth will create the jobs necessary for maintaining a decent quality of life and CARICOM countries were working towards achieving that as well.
“Many of our member states are facing financial and economic challenges, including high debt and being graduated out of access to financing at concessional rates. We are making strides in addressing these issues, particularly with respect to changing the criteria for access to concessional financing. Also, interesting and innovative ideas have been put forward to alleviate the debt burden. The achievement of our goals in those two areas will greatly assist in the efforts to encourage growth,” he said.
Recalling CARICOM’s progress over the year, he noted that its attempts to influence the international community to support positions which advance the region’s interests also met with some success at major global conferences held this year to deal comprehensively with the challenges of developing countries. “For us in the Caribbean Community, the outcome of these global discussions, particularly on the issue of climate change, bore significant relevance as we continued to seek to build our economic and environmental resilience both of which are priorities in the Community’s Strategic Plan. We did ourselves proud at each of the events with our unified approach resulting in favourable outcomes,” the Secretary General said. He stressed that to fulfil the potential of the decisions taken at these conferences will require the region to continue to strengthen the co-ordination of foreign policy.