CARICOM reviews the year 2017

St. Lucia News Online:

(PRESS RELEASE) – Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque said in his End of Year Message that CARICOM was ending 2017 with several other noteworthy achievements, including a change in posture by international financial institutions and some development partners with respect to access to concessionary development financing.

The Secretary-General stated: “It is encouraging to note that our relentless advocacy with respect to the lack of access to concessional development financing appears to be bearing fruit. There is some re-thinking on this issue taking place at the level of the International Financial Institutions (IFIs) and some of our international development partners.”

Adding that CARICOM will continue to advocate for this change, he said the region’s vulnerability to external shocks, which the hurricanes laid bare, emphasized the urgent need for the international community to dispense with GDP per capita as a primary criterion for access to concessional development financing.

Ambassador LaRocque noted significant advances in human resource development highlighting the July 2017 endorsement of Heads of Government of the Human Resource Development (HRD) 2030 Strategy.

With regard to energy, in July 2017, CARICOM member states signed the Agreement establishing the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE). It will play a major role in the community’s thrust to increase the renewable energy share in power generation to 47 percent by 2027, resulting in the lowering of costs to the consumers and benefits to the environment, the Secretary-General stated.

He highlighted the range of opportunities now opened to the private sector with the signing of the Second Protocol to the CARICOM-Cuba Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement and also commented on CARIFESTA XIII which was held in Barbados under the theme ‘Asserting our Culture: Celebrating Ourselves.’

As he looked ahead to 2018, Ambassador LaRocque stated that it was with expectation of closer regional unity, reminiscent of the kindred spirit that fueled the outpouring of support post hurricanes Irma and Maria. He commended the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) for performing their respect roles “magnificently and promptly”.

While the hurricanes will have a lasting impact on the community, he lauded the support rendered to the hurricane-stricken countries by CARICOM governments, people, institutions and the international community.