While admitting that 2020 has been a challenging year for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), outgoing chairman Mia Mottley believes the future is bright for countries in the region.
In her last speech today as chairman before handing over to Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves, Mottley called for unity among the 15-member regional grouping.
And while she admitted that not everyone was on the same page, she said the Caribbean needed to come together now more than ever.
“These are difficult times. These are challenging times. But I know that a 100 years ago in our own country, we laid the foundation to be able to fight off the oligarchy. And what we have achieved in the last 100 years, nobody in their wildest dreams could have imagined in terms of being able to change the quality of life for so many of our citizens,” Mottley said.
“What motivates us today is that there are others who have not gotten on the train. And regrettably COVID-19 and the climate crisis is threatening as well as the public health disease of violence, is threatening to throw others off the train. If ever the Caribbean Community needed to stay as one, if ever the Caribbean Community needed to act as the adult nations that we are, if ever the Caribbean Community needed to be able to band together to allow us to make up for the deficiencies that we have within each territory and to allow the regional institutions to avoid for us the duplication of expenditure on critical areas of governance, it is now.
“We will continue to stay the course and to make this region the best region that it can be standing for rights, standing for principles and standing, most importantly, for opportunity and prosperity for our people,” she added.
Mottley acknowledged that while there were difficult times ahead, she believed the region had the wherewithal to emerge victorious.
She said the COVID-19 pandemic had “dealt a hard, hard blow” to the region and there had also been governance issues.
Mottley referenced the electoral process in Guyana which has yet to be concluded, describing it as “regrettable”.
However, she said there were several promising initiatives that governments and people of the Caribbean should look forward to.
These she said included the African Medical Supplies Platform as well as financial assistance from the US and other international countries.
Mottley said the establishment of the platform was critical, in light of the fight against COVID-19.
She said this was made possible through regional institutions CARPHA, CDEMA, the CDB, IMPACS, along with WHO and PAHO.
“…The Caribbean can have access to an African Medical Supplies Platform that will allow the smallest of our countries to be able to access PPE [personal protective equipment], in vitro diagnostics, therapeutics when they come, vaccine when it comes in the same way that the largest of the countries of Africa will be able to do so, and in the same way that we will be able to make sure that what transpired in March, April and May will not be repeated going forward because we have access to the suppliers who can supply for us at the scale that we need and more importantly, a country like St. Kitts with 40,000 people will be able to procure goods at the same price as Nigeria with over 200 million persons as their population base,” Mottley said.
Additionally, she said the US had leveraged its leadership at the IMF to support a total of $1.7 billion in new emergency funding for Caribbean countries.
In her final appeal, Mottley called for the establishment of a form of financing for regional institutions.
“Our community of sovereign nations is premised on functional cooperation. It’s also premised on the kind of cooperation that comes from these regional institutions. We have to find a way of providing that automaticity of financing if we are to make a success of these Caribbean institutions. Without cash, there is no capacity to care regrettably, and that is the reality of what we are facing,” Mottley said. (RB)
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