New Year’s Mes­sage from In­com­ing Chair­man of CARI­COM Dr. Ti­mothy Har­ris, St. Kitts and Ne­vis PM

The Star (St. Lucia) - - REGIONAL -

As the Caribbean Com­mu­nity en­ters this New Year 2019, it is with a re­newed vigour and de­ter­mi­na­tion to main­tain the mo­men­tum with which we ended 2018. This is the fi­nal year of our first five-year Strate­gic Plan and prepa­ra­tions have al­ready be­gun for the se­cond plan, which will build on the ac­com­plish­ments of its pre­de­ces­sor.

There is no doubt that the CARI­COM Sin­gle Mar­ket and Econ­omy is the lynch­pin of our ef­forts at sus­tain­able growth and devel­op­ment and in the com­ing year we will be look­ing to fur­ther ad­vance its im­ple­men­ta­tion from what has been achieved in 2018. When we gather in St Kitts and Ne­vis in Fe­bru­ary for the Thir­ti­eth In­ter-Ses­sional Meet­ing of the Con­fer­ence we will con­duct a spe­cial ses­sion on Air and Mar­itime Trans­porta­tion to fo­cus on this crit­i­cal as­pect of in­te­gra­tion as a whole and the CSME in par­tic­u­lar. An ef­fi­cient and af­ford­able trans­porta­tion sys­tem would be a tremen­dous stim­u­lus to trade and in­trare­gional tourism thereby strength­en­ing two crit­i­cal as­pects of in­te­gra­tion.

At the core of our thrust for growth and devel­op­ment is a well-ed­u­cated and healthy work­force. Our Com­mu­nity’s com­mit­ment to bat­tle against the rav­ages caused by chronic non-com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases is un­re­lent­ing. Our Min­is­ters of Health have agreed on a pro­gramme called Caribbean Moves which seeks to cre­ate a cul­ture of reg­u­lar phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity and healthy eat­ing through ex­cit­ing, fun and sup­port­ive pro­grammes where peo­ple live, work, study and play. It is a whole so­ci­ety ap­proach that we must em­brace to tackle this con­tin­u­ing threat to our great­est re­source—our peo­ple.

At a high-level meet­ing at the United Na­tions we once again brought to the at­ten­tion of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, the threat that chronic NCDs is pos­ing to our sus­tain­able devel­op­ment.

Let us make 2019 the year that made the dif­fer­ence in com­bat­ting chronic non­com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases in our Com­mu­nity. We will also be mak­ing strides in im­ple­ment­ing our Hu­man Re­source Devel­op­ment Strat­egy 2030 as we move to draft the new school cur­ricu­lum with par­tic­u­lar em­pha­sis on Sci­ence Tech­nol­ogy En­gi­neer­ing Arts and Math­e­mat­ics (STEAM).

It is im­per­a­tive that the young CARI­COM cit­i­zens are ad­e­quately pre­pared both for the global en­vi­ron­ment and for play­ing their part in help­ing the Re­gion’s thrust to­wards sus­tain­able devel­op­ment.

2019 there­fore prom­ises to be a year full of ac­tion for CARI­COM. It is a year in which I look for­ward to us all be­ing part of the cel­e­bra­tion at CARIFESTA XIV which will be held dur­ing the pe­riod 16-25 Au­gust 2019, in Trinidad and Tobago, un­der the theme “The Tan­gi­ble and In­tan­gi­ble – Con­nect, Share, In­vest”. It is a cel­e­bra­tion and pro­mo­tion of our cul­ture. It will bring to­gether song, dance, vis­ual arts and other cul­tural ex­pres­sions. It is al­ways an event to cher­ish and I have no doubt that the fes­ti­val will once again live up to its billing as the premier cul­tural ex­po­si­tion in the re­gion.

As I as­sume the chair of the Com­mu­nity for the next six months, I would like to ac­knowl­edge the ster­ling lead­er­ship of my pre­de­ces­sor in the po­si­tion, the Most Honourable An­drew Hol­ness, Prime Min­is­ter of Ja­maica. He has set a stan­dard which, with the help of my col­league Heads of Govern­ment, the Sec­re­tar­iat and the re­gional In­sti­tu­tions I will strive to match.

May we all have a Happy, Healthy and Pro­duc­tive New Year.

Prime Min­is­ter Dr Ti­mothy Har­ris of St Kitts and Ne­vis (pic­tured) rings in 2019 by dis­cussing CARI­COM’s plans for trade, sus­tain­able devel­op­ment, non-com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eae­ses and this year’s CARIFESTA.

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