JIS News

Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, and Chairman of CARICOM, Dr. Denzil Douglas has, once again, come out in support of regional integration, describing it as the way forward for sustainable economic development within the Caribbean.
“I am of the view that the future of the Caribbean has to be grounded in its ability to effectively integrate in such a manner as to effect workable strategies that inform our foreign affairs and trade policies, and overall development strategies in an increasingly competitive world,” he said.
He pointed out that the issue within the Caribbean was one about sustainable development, especially in recognition of the size and limitations of the countries of the region, in natural and fiscal resources.
Dr. Douglas was addressing the 8th Congress of the World Federation of Consuls, at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Montego Bay, on November 7.
He said that the issues of market size, capacity weaknesses, shortcomings in institutional structures and systems and productivity would be central in shaping the development agenda for the Caribbean community.
The Chairman emphasised that the countries of the region were forging ahead with a very positive spirit, to ensure that regional development is sustainable.
He said that competitiveness within the world economy and other geo-political trends combined, made the economic environment for the development of the Caribbean region very challenging.
“Surely the environment within which we operate today is a most challenging one, as we strive diligently to raise the standard of living for our Caribbean citizens by dealing with matters such as poverty alleviation and the empowering of our people to take a large slice of the economic pie to aid the shaping of their own destiny,” he added.
Dr. Douglas said that implementation of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) provided the basis for the region’s businesses to begin looking outward in a more substantial and competitive manner.
He said that while there had been mixed reactions to the establishment of the Caribbean Court Of Justice (CCJ), that institution was absolutely necessary if the region is to forge ahead with the CSME to any meaningful extent.
“When all factors are taken into account, one can only conclude that the way forward for countries of the Caribbean lies in the effectiveness of our own integration, the efficiencies and the relevance of our own regional institutions, upon increased access to tertiary level education, greater exposure to specialized training, and the effective implementation and operation of the CSME. All these will have to be pursued vigorously,” he emphasised.
The Chairman warned against obstacles that could be in the way of regional progress and called for changes in lifestyles that now impacted persons in the region in negative ways; the tackling of Health issues, such as HIV/AIDS and other non- communicable diseases; a regional approach to rising fuel cost and natural hazards, such as hurricanes.