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(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) — Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis on Monday said that the assumption of office by the new Secretary-General of CARICOM, His Excellency Irwin LaRocque, marks a turning point in the history of the Community.

Ambassador LaRocque assumed the position of CARICOM Secretary-General on August 15, at a formal ceremony held at the Georgetown, Guyana Headquarters of the CARICOM Secretariat.

Delivering remarks via videoconference from New York, USA, Dr. Douglas said, “a new chapter in the history of the Community has begun today with this official event that marks more than just your ascension to the position of Secretary General."

“Symbolically this is an era of new beginnings, after months of transition in the management of the Secretariat whose core Mission embraces the provision of 'dynamic leadership and service in partnership with Community Institutions and groups, toward the attainment of a viable, internationally competitive and sustainable Community, with improved quality of life for all."

Dr. Douglas said that the Conference of Heads of Government had reposed much confidence in the Secretary-General to carry the mantle of leadership of the Community and steer the CARICOM Secretariat through a period of restructuring. He said that Ambassador LaRocque’s distinction as one of the Region's leading trade experts, with a keen understanding of the CSME as the flagship initiative of the integration movement, spoke to his readiness for the task.

Having ascended to office in a period of troubling global uncertainties, the Chairman charged the new Secretary-General to give momentum to the implementation of the many initiatives that have been designed to give relevance to CARICOM.

Dr. Douglas said that the Conference of Heads of Government had outlined a number of priority areas that addressed the global dilemma that was handicapping the Region. These priorities, he said, were indicative of the urgency with which CARICOM must act to impact the positive change that would give effect to the re-energising of the Secretariat as it readies itself for the new governance mechanism that will take guide the Region through this period of global unrest.

“We are all convinced that the Community must have modalities that will give it currency and you must remain acutely attuned to the developments that would warrant the injection of the requisite resources and leadership that will make this institution viable in any era of its existence,” Dr. Douglas stated.

In this regard, he urged the Secretary-General to give effect to organs that were designed to address functional cooperation, which must be also energised to positively impact the implementation of the new vision that would be the thrust of his tenure.

Improved focus, Dr. Douglas added, must be placed on the sectors that would foster employment creation and have its attendant positive social, economic and political benefits for the Member States and the people of the Region.

“Our focus must be on creating the synergies that will drive and sustain development in sectors such as tourism, agriculture, renewable energy, trade that will position the Region to take advantage of the opportunities that can make it competitive to surmount the vagaries of the times,” the Chairman said.

He underscored the importance of addressing pressing governance issues that would lead to the accomplishment of the mission of the Secretariat. In this pursuit, he said that the provisions of the Revised Treaty of Chagauramas must not be illusive but a guiding principle for the Region’s survival and renewed mandate.