Dr Keith Rowley. Photo/T&T Parliament
By Sue-Ann Wayow
PRIME MINISTER Dr Keith Rowley in his first statement as chairman of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) said the year 2021 offers renewed hope and light at the end of the tunnel with the availability of the Covid-19 vaccine.
Dr Rowley said, “Let this be the year that we make CARICOM work for us, as we build back better and construct the resilient society that will provide a safe, prosperous and viable community for all of us. We have the tools to do it. 2021 must be the year of CARICOM.”
He said the rapid Covid-19 response from Caribbean countries saved many lives which “demonstrated without a doubt that the answer to Covid is CARICOM.”
“In the recovery phase, we must employ the same collective, coordinated and focused actions that allowed us to control the spread of the virus. Chief among these is the discipline to maintain the protocols that help to avoid being contaminated. The less strain we put on the health systems will directly benefit the economic and financial situation,” Dr Rowley said.
He added that while CARICOM was looking to receipt of the vaccines having signed on to the COVAX Facility, it will take time to recover from the effects of the pandemic especially the economic effects.
Dr Rowley said, “Even as we vigorously pursue the possibilities of support from the international financial institutions and other avenues, we must look at making full use of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) as our principal means of recovery. It is that confidence in ourselves and our institutions, our intellectual capacity and creativity, and the platform we have laid which will lead us on the path to recovery. Pursuing the plans to advance the CSME that may have been side-lined by the urgent needs of the past year must be a priority to help propel us out of the negative socio-economic outlook that has been forecast.”
And he said, “Harnessing all of our resources, human, natural and financial, to lead this recovery process will be a clear signal of our maturity as an integration unit approaching its 50th anniversary. The example has been set time and again in adversity. That is the approach that we must adopt across the board to transform our community post COVID and beyond.”