JIS News

The reconstruction and long-term development of Haiti will be one of the main agenda topics at the 31st Meeting of the CARICOM Heads of Government in Montego Bay next month.
CARICOM Secretary General, Dr. Edwin Carrington, speaking at a preparatory media clinic held yesterday (June 15) at the University of the West Indies’ Mona campus, said that the devastation by the January 7 earthquake, “demands that we all pitch in to bolster the efforts of the Haitian people.”
In outlining the work being carried out by CARICOM both as a member of the International Haiti Relief Committee (IHRC), and in its regional capacity, Special Representative of CARICOM Heads on Haiti, the Most Hon. P.J. Patterson, informed that shelter has been selected as the first, and most immediate area of priority.
“Taking into account the number of people, who are presently homeless, the current hurricane season, and the history of Haiti, which has suffered from flooding attendant on the passage of hurricanes.efforts are being made to see how quickly we can put into Haiti, the physical capacity that can accommodate persons, who will be in need of shelter,” he said.
With a number of public shelters destroyed, Mr. Patterson said the focus is on providing mass shelter. “You’re not going to be able to build the houses that are required to provide temporary shelter for the hurricane season. Some amount of individual shelter is already being secured, but the emphasis has to be on the provision of mass shelter.we have lost a bit of time (and) we have got to make haste,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Mr. Patterson said agriculture had been identified as the second priority in Haiti because even before the disastrous earthquake, agriculture was already the main form of economic sustenance for the citizens. “Especially as the Government wants to support the decentralization (of citizens) in Haiti, and reducing the number of people, who live in the Port-au-Prince area, agriculture is obviously key to the success of those efforts,” he said.
He informed that agriculture ministries in member countries have expressed a willingness to cooperate in this effort. On Tuesday (June 15), a proposal was received from Jamaica’s Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, setting out areas in which there could be meaningful cooperation between the two countries, on agricultural development.
The 31st Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM will be held from July 4 to 7 at the Rose Hall Resort and Spa in Montego Bay.
Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding, will assume chairmanship of the regional grouping from July to December. Haiti’s President Rene Preval was slated to become chairman, but on account of the devastation caused by the earthquake, CARICOM Heads decided that Jamaica should assume the chair.
Other important topics on the wide-ranging meeting agenda include: CARICOM in the contemporary world; Progress in the Implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy; Update on External Trade Negotiations; The region’s recovery process in light of the Global Economic and Financial Crisis; Crime and Security in the Community; and Climate Change Priorities for the region.