Caribbean Leaders Urge Each Other To `Step Up` At CARICOM Summit

Caribbean Leaders Urge Each Other To `Step Up` At CARICOM Summit

CaribWorldNews, NEW YORK, NY, Weds. July 2, 2008: Three Caribbean leaders addressing the opening of the 29th Conference Of Heads Of Government in Antigua & Barbuda yesterday used most of their remarks to urge each other to step up their efforts to deliver for the people of the region.
Facing tough economic times as a result of the global economic crisis that’s seen huge increases in food prices for many nationals region-wide, the leaders of Jamaica, Guyana and Antigua used their remarks to urge for more movement by leaders to address the needs of their nationals.

`We need to review the inventory of our accomplishments and our failures. … [And] where there have been failures, let us redouble our efforts to correct them so that we can move on,` said Prime Minister Bruce Golding of Jamaica.

He reiterated that claims are justifiably being made on CARICOM by the people of the Caribbean `especially at this time when they are being battered and bruised by forces that are neither of their making nor within our control.`

And Golding urged, `In this time of crisis, strong leadership is critical. … CARICOM provides the framework. The Caribbean people await our response.`
Guyana President Bharrat Jagdeo for his part, insisted that CARICOM ` cannot continuously define and redefine the goals of integration.`

`We have to balance the seeming obsession with architecture and framework and noble and lofty ideas, however important they are, with the need to work on practical initiatives – initiatives that create opportunities for our young people and entrepreneurs, initiatives that solve problems facing our people on a daily basis, initiatives that allow the Region to remain viable in the face of a changing world,` said the Guyanese leader.

Jagdeo also used his remarks to urge CARICOM leaders to urgently address the food crisis that is also affecting the Caribbean. `How will we secure this Region’s food supplies?  How are we going to ensure that we feed our children in the future?  Do we want to leave them to an uncertain future that may mean hunger?,` he questioned before adding,  `You cannot grow food by rhetoric or talk or even a food strategy (important as it is) but by investment.  This will happen when governments show solid commitment by increasing budgetary allocations and work consistently to remove constraints to create more incentives for private sector investment.`

Jagdeo, also citing the need for the region to invest in its human resources by educating them about technology, insisted that an investment of $300 million could place a computer in every household across our region including 500 internet access points in Haiti.

`Such an investment will create vast social bandwidth and would revolutionize communication, education and business in our region`, said Jagdeo.

Antigua & Barbuda`s PM, Baldwin Spencer, the new chair of CARICOM, shared some of his fellow leaders sentiment, ending with a call for the streamlining of operations and for the movement of CARICOM to the next level.

`Now more than ever CARICOM is required to act as one.  There is no doubt that the external world treats us as one,` he said at the Sandals Hotel on the north western part of the island. `No country, big or small, has the capacity to solve problems such as drug-trafficking, climate change or escalating food prices on its own. We must act as one in the interest of the people of this region.`

Caribbean leaders are set to deal with several key issues including food security, enhancing regional tourism in the context of current international trends and rising food prices in the Caribbean and the world at large.

Crime and issues relating to the CARICOM Single Market will also be discussed and the Economic Partnership Agreement is also down for discussion.

Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell, who is campaigning for a July 8 general election in his country and outgoing CARICOM chairman, Hubert Ingraham are absent from the four-day summit.

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