Dominica PM Skerrit feels ‘deep sense of accomplishment’ as Caricom chairman term ends

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Caricom chairman and Dominican Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit. – File photo

DOMINICAN prime minister Roosevelt Skerrit says it has been an “immense pleasure” to serve as Caricom chairman. And now, as his term comes to an end, he said he feels a “deep sense of accomplishment” for what was achieved under his leadership.

Skerrit is in Guyana for the 46th Regular Meeting of the Caricom Heads of Government, which began on February 25 and ends on February 28.

Addressing the conference, he said his heart was filled with “immense pride and gratitude” as he concluded his term as Caricom chairman.

He thanked fellow heads of government, the Caricom secretariat, international partners of Caricom as well as Caricom citizens “for their invaluable support.

“(The year) 2023 has been a year etched in our memories, not just for the global challenges we faced, but for the unwavering spirit and collective action that defines Caricom.

“Time and time again, we rose to the occasion, so it is only right that we join now to acknowledge the significant progress made across various fronts.”

He said the region took major steps towards self-sufficiency through continued implementation of the Community Agricultural Policy, which promoted innovation and collaboration among farmers.

“These include increased budgetary allocations to agriculture in member states; introduction of new crops; improved cross border investments and collaborations; development and implementation of new agriculture trade policies and guidelines; and identification and agreement on possible insurance products to benefit farmers in the region.

“It means that we remain on course to meet our 25 by 2025 Food Security Initiative targets, with the most critical one being to reduce our food import bill and advance food and nutrition security for the community.”

He added that the signing of a double taxation agreement eased trade and investment, which further helped Caricom “fortify our r economic resilience…

“And almost immediately saw positive signs of recovery in our respective tourism sectors – a vital pillar of our economies.”

He said continued calls for an increase in climate change awareness were also at the forefront, with Caricom championing the Caribbean Climate Action Plan.

“(The plan) will safeguard our future from the devastating effects of climate change.”

Other topics he praised Caricom for focusing on included disaster preparedness and management, renewable energy and tourism.

“These achievements are not merely footnotes; they represent the collective spirit of the Caribbean. They represent the unwavering commitment of our governments, the dedication of our people, and the power of regional collaboration.

“It was our shared belief in collaboration that guided us to remain peaceful during a period when other regions in the world crumbled and resorted to unrest. Every family faces friction.

“But strong families navigate disagreements with respect and understanding. They prioritise open communication, active listening, and compromise, remembering the love and shared values that bind them.”

He said the region’s spirit of unity and determination will continue to guide all.

“We have the talent, the resources, and the collective will to overcome any obstacle. So let us continue to work together, hand in hand, to build a brighter future for our beloved Caribbean, a future where every country thrives, and every voice is heard.”

Skerrit’s term as Caricom chairman began in July 2023. The new chairman is Guyana’s president Dr Irfaan Ali.