By Ingrid Fernandez, Staff Reporter
Prime Minister Dean Barrow took over the chairmanship of CARICOM this week, emphasizing on the major issues facing the Caribbean in the year to come.
Barrow expressed optimistism over the prospects the Caribbean has, amidst the economic crisis most Caribbean countries face. He stated the economic challenges might be “the sternest economic test that our member states have had to face in recent memory.”
He noted that elevating the standard of living of member states’ civilians has been a challenge for the region, as most countries have faced an increase in foreign debt and poverty this year.
Under his leadership, Barrow, hopes the Caribbean will build economic, environmental, social and technological resilience to foster sustainable development.
The Prime Minister’s priority is on the issue of consolidation and he expressed hope that during his year of leadership, the arrangements made for Caribbean unity will be revised with the hope of making them more effective. Regional unity continues as a resounding message for Caribbean leaders.
Barrow highlighted the achievements the region enjoyed, making reference to the success of the Caribbean’s input at the COP21 and other achievements over the past years. He said these are benchmarks in keeping together as a region.
The leader of the country also mentioned the importance of the Caribbean Court of Justice, especially to shape identity and regional unity. He says he believes that having a regional appellate reflects on the level of intellectuality in the Caribbean and the region’s ability to manage its own affairs.
Crime, Barrow stated, is one of the worst social ailments prevalent in the Caribbean. He assures that this year, the member states will implement new forms of dealing with crime, especially focusing on grassroots movements.
Barrow acknowledged the Prime Minister of Barbados, Freundel Stuart’s guidance over the past year and resolved to continue strengthening Caribbean integration under his one year leadership.