Browne, the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, who is being replaced by his Bahamas counterpart, Perry Christie, said in a New Year’s message that the difficulties with which governments and the people have been confronted in 2014 “demanded strength of character and resilience which, to our credit, we have demonstrated”.
“The lingering effects of the global economic and financial crises, heavy debt burdens, high unemployment and low growth have had a negative impact on our lives and our standard of living,” he said.
“However, as a region we have put our heads together to seek solutions to the problems and identify strategies to pursue which would put us on a path to growth and development and, importantly, create jobs,” added Browne.
He said that Caricom’s first-ever Five-Year Strategic Plan is yet another example of how the region has been able time and again, to find its own solutions to overcome its problems.
“From CARIFTA to Common Market to Single Market and Economy, we have made economic strides. Through CXC, PANCAP and CDEMA we have successfully devised our own solutions to education, health and disaster management issues.
“Our regional security apparatus has served us with distinction. We have proven beyond a doubt that we are capable of devising appropriate measures to help ourselves, he said.
Prime Minister Browne said that those examples are also a clear indication that the region’s best efforts result from actions as an integrated unit.
“The collective intelligence and creativity of our people has ensured that our Caribbean civilisation has thrived despite the setbacks and it is to that we have turned again to combat our current challenges. It is that faith and confidence in you the people of the Caribbean that assures us, as leaders of this cmmunity, that we are capable of confronting any obstacle with your full support,” said the outgoing Caricom chairman.
He urged the Caribbean to regard “2015 as a year in which we recommit ourselves to strengthening our integration movement in a spirit of unity”, recalling a statement he made early in 2014 when he noted “together we can, and will, not only survive but thrive, by enhancing our collective capacity to achieve economic stability and growth, a better quality of life for our people and sustainable development”.