In his end of year message Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque said the framework of the reform process has begun to take shape both within the Community and its Secretariat.
According to Secretary-General LaRocque, the Implementing Partners for the Strategic Plan, the Member States, the Regional Institutions and the Secretariat, are embracing the challenge as the groundwork for the cohesive approach has been laid.
As difficult and challenging as reform is, Ambassador LaRocque believes it is absolutely essential in order to confront the ever-changing nature of today’s global environment.
This reform, he noted is not an end in itself but a means of ensuring that the citizens of CARICOM derive the maximum benefit from the integration process. And one major factor in advancing those interests, the Secretary-General highlighted, is the operation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
In this regard Heads of Government have mandated that a comprehensive review of the CSME be conducted and that process is being undertaken.
A commitment was made to work with Member States to accelerate implementation of the elements of the CSME and in utilizing its provisions, in an effort LaRocque noted, to give the Community the best chance of establishing the socio-economic platform for prosperity.
Steps have been taken through ICT to simplify some of the administrative procedures which allow our citizens to benefit from the CSME.
The CSME Application Processing System (CAPS) streamlines and harmonizes the skills and services processes, allowing persons to apply for their skill certificates online and will eventually allow for payments to be made and all approvals, including issuing of the certificates online.
The roll out has begun and will be in more countries in the coming year, the Secretary-General informed. Further, he noted that the interests of the private sector are also engaging the secretariat’s attention as steps are being taken to ease the conduct of doing business in the Region.
As 2017 approaches, Ambassador LaRocque said with the uncertainties on the international scene and closer to home, the continuing issue concerning correspondent banking he remains optimistic that the Community would be better able to confront whatever challenges arise through being a united force.
According to him heads of Government, Ministers, Officials and staff of the regional Institutions continue to demonstrate their leadership and commitment to the integration process. And from his interaction with stakeholders in civil society, the private sector and among the youth there is widespread support for creating the viable Community for All that CARICOM is working towards.