CARICOM gets its Permanent Home


Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), His Excellency Mr. Edwin Carrington was officially handed the keys to the Headquarters of the CARICOM Secretariat this morning during a ceremony held on the grounds of the facilities at Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara.
Coming on the heels of the 16th Inter-Sessional Meeting of the CARICOM Heads of Government, the inauguration of the pristine building, which has changed the landscape of the Embankment Road, where it is located, four miles from the capital, comes at a significant time in the history of the Caribbean Community, “The Year of the Single Market”.
Attending the ceremony were some 600 invitees including Chairman of the Conference of Heads of the Government, H. E. Runaldo R Venetiaan and seven other Heads of Government – Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Hon. Baldwin Spencer, Prime Minister of Barbados, the Rt. Hon. Owen Arthur, Prime Minister of Guyana, Hon. Samuel Hinds, Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Most Hon. P. J. Patterson, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, the Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. the Hon. Ralph Gonzales and Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Hon. Patrick Manning. Other Heads of government were represented. Other guests included past Secretary-General, Sir Shridath Ramphal, staff of the Secretariat and special invited guest, President of Chile, H. E. Ricardo Lagos Escabor.
Speaking at the ceremony, Chairman of the Conference, His Excellency Runaldo R Venetiaan, described the occasion as “a historic and joyful moment”. The celebration of the opening of the building he asserted is a long awaited moment, adding that its inauguration at this time is in keeping with other current developments in the Region. “Like the imminent implementation of the CSME, the official opening symbolises the beginning of a new era, in fulfilling the dreams of a Caribbean with one vision, one future and one destiny” President Venetiaan said.
The current longest serving Prime Minister of CARICOM, the Most Hon. P. J. Patterson, Prime Minister of Jamaica, told the gathering that the building was not merely a structure, but a critical milestone in the journey of CARICOM. “Today, as we are about to move under the roof of our own CARICOM House, we see a tangible manifestation of our achievements and our commitment. This edifice embodies the spirit and the vision of the fathers and mothers of our Community who travelled those difficult early miles to lay the foundation for a Community of which we can all be justly proud,” Prime Minister Patterson said.
The new facilities, he added, were a signal that CARICOM had truly come of age. “I am certain that the maturing of the Secretariat in this House will be a symbol of the consolidation of the integration process as we build a Caribbean civilisation, fueled by a strong Regional consciousness that reminds us not only who we are but, even moreso, what together we can become and achieve.”
A joyous Secretary General in his remarks thanked the government of Guyana for what he described as “a red letter day”. “This is surely a day of rejoicing. For on this day the Government of Guyana has delivered in full on its promise. This day, will certainly go down in the annals of the history of our Community,” Secretary-General expressed.
Thanking not just the government and people of Guyana, H.E. Carrington conveyed gratitude to a number of persons and institutions for the great realisation, including Prime Minister of Barbados, the Rt. Hon. Owen Arthur; the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GUYSUCO); the Most Hon. P.J. Patterson, Prime Minister of Jamaica; Sir Shridath Ramphal; former President of Guyana, Her Excellency Janet Jagan; the Bank of Guyana; the constructing firm of S.A. Nabi and Sons; and the media.
Presenting the location of the new building as “the center of a new development thrust, Secretary General noted, “Today we have the nucleus of a major development center, not just for Liliendaal, our new community; not just for Guyana, our home country; not even just for the Caribbean Community; but for the entire Region of the shoulder of South America and the Caribbean Islands.”
Speaking on behalf of the Government of Japan, Special envoy H. E. Tatsuo Arima, reflected on assistance that the Japanese government has provided to the Caribbean over the years. He stressed the intention of the Government of Japan to continue collaboration with developing nations like the CARICOM Region, saying, the Japanese have felt a privilege to have full co-operation and consultation with CARICOM.
Expressing pleasure at the completion and final hand over to the CCS, H.E. Arima said, “It is really gratifying that Japan can make such a contribution being appreciated by all.”
H. E. Bharrat Jagdeo, President of Guyana stressed in his statement, “This is indeed a proud moment for all Guyanese and especially for me as it represents the fulfilling of a promise made more than thirty years ago when the Regional integration process began. ”
Declaring the event high ranking in the process of building a Regional movement, President Jagdeo said, “the completion of the Headquarters Building signals just the first phase of the developmental works earmarked for this community. It will be complemented by a modern convention centre, an upscale international hotel and the upgrading of the Ogle aerodrome into a Regional airport. Within a short period of time, the Headquarters, adjacent as it is to the University of Guyana and the Cyril Potter College of Education, will itself be a centre of intellectual creativity and hub of a thriving urban community.”
The CARICOM office complex is constructed on a parcel of land measuring 690′ x 530′ and is surrounded by a six feet fence on three sides and a five feet concrete enclosure at its front.
The two-storey structure contains a sturdy foundation laid with 980 piles of Green Heart, the strongest construction timber in Guyana and stands upright with a steel frame concrete clad. It also features external glass walls and a 7′ verandah on its periphery.
The building will accommodate the over 200 staff of the CARICOM Secretariat.
The Government of Japan provided funds to assist with the construction of the building while the Government of India is providing resources for the full computerisation of the building and the establishment of a Communications Studio.

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