Like every organization, there are concerns and challenges that will be experienced as the work progresses in meeting its objectives. The CARICOM organization is no different as they too have concerns ranging from the debt of its 15-member states to climate change, free trade and access to financing. Secretary General Irwin LaRocque spoke of those concerns as well as others that they are tackling including the issue of de-risking which Belize has felt the brunt of.
“The number of other issues that we are concerned about that we are going to be working on collectively is the whole issue of CSME and how we make it more relevant in the day to day lives of our people. We’ve been putting in place what I call the legal and policy structure in place for the CSME so it allows for free trade and certain things but our countries have been suffering through economic issues, fiscal issues since the global financial crisis of 2008 and many of them are still feeling the weight of that and we know the global situation of the economy. How do we make the CSME more relevant to those issues? How do we address the issues of the high debt which almost all of our countries have experienced? And a more recent development which is part of other global issues is the whole issue of de-risking and the fact that the corresponding banks are moving away from us. I know that Belize is badly affected but it’s affecting many of our member states perhaps Belize is one of the worst affected. So these are some of the issues in terms of our international relations, in terms of issues that impact on our economy whether it’s individually or collectively that we are going to be focusing on.”
Another aspect that is being given top priority is education which Secretary General LaRocque says is key in ensuring that it is up to par in order to secure the economies of CARICOM’s member states.
“We have a major review going on, on the entire education system. The heads of government set up a Human Resource Development Commission that will look at our education system from pre-primary all the way up to tertiary to ensure that the kind of training that we will be putting forward will be delivering the kind of persons that will be relevant to our future society. It’s all nice and good to learn certain subjects but when you come out you can’t get a job because it’s not relevant to the day to day development of your community. We know that information and communication technology is a major driving force in everything that we do in our lives and we need to train our people in all parts of life not just the high tech people but the users and in E-government. We have a committee that has started to work on that issue, I’m very excited about that because I feel very strongly that our economic growth and future and development is with our people and the Caribbean is not short on brain power. We need to harness that, our abilities, time and again we have proven our worth internationally and we need to put it to work for ourselves in the region.”
Irwin LaRocque is CARICOM’s seventh Secretary General and was installed on August 15, 2011.