As the Chair of CARICOM, Prime Minister Perry Christie told delegates of the United Nations that plans are in place to revitalize economic growth in the Caribbean and to address the rising levels of unemployment in the region.
“Revitalizing economic growth is therefore of critical importance to preventing further deterioration in the region’s human development gains and thus the region has embarked on a plan to reposition itself,” Christie said yesterday during the 2015 Integrated Segment of Economic and Social Council of the United Nations held in New York.
He pointed out that CARICOM has adopted either home-grown or multilaterally-supported stabilisation and structural adjustment programmes, which haven’t shown any results as yet in sustained growth in those member states experiencing significant macro-economic imbalances.
Therefore, the prime minister explained that this plan must take into consideration the rising levels of unemployment among the region’s youth, which includes skill shortages.
Christie expressed that he acknowledges that this repositioning must be one which reviews in a holistic manner, the content and focus of the region’s education and training systems, and places emphasis on areas including innovation and creativity, digital literacy and entrepreneurship and issues of gender and inclusiveness.
He noted that last year the CARICOM Heads of Government approved “The Strategic Plan for the Caribbean Community 2015-2019: Repositioning CARICOM”, which is the first plan of its kind for the community.
“It is an ambitious document, which lays out a comprehensive plan for building economic, social and environmental resilience in the community, as well as strengthening governance along with coordinated foreign policy, research and development, and innovation,” Christie said.
He further explained that there is a need to build competitiveness and unleash key economic drivers to transition to growth and generate employment.
“This would be addressed across all areas of the plan: economic, social, environmental and technological, and across all sectors of the economy, including the agricultural sector, a sector largely untapped in this regard,” Christie explained.
As the chair of CARICOM, he assured that efforts will be made to advance human capital development, through the enhancement of key skills, education reform and youth development.
“We will build capacity and create green jobs in our efforts to manage adaptation to climate change and mitigate it effects, and enhance our resilience to natural disasters. And we will forge a culture of innovation, increase job creation, entrepreneurship and new business development in Information and Communication Technology (ICT),” he added.
Christie explained that the establishment of a single ICT space in CARICOM will be the ideal platform to provide the relevant opportunities and apart from the employment factor, the beneficial effects will spill over into the social dimension, as the youth channel their ingenuity into productive activity.
However, he told UN delegates that in order to implement such plans, the region needs support from the international community.
“In this connection, CARICOM has been keen to align our plan with that of the international agenda, and to ensure that the special needs of the region, and SIDS (small island developing states) in general, are central to the post 2015 Development Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals,” Christie said.
“We believe that with a renewed commitment to a global partnership for development, we would be able to provide the necessary support to regional and national efforts to achieve the proposed sustainable development goals, including the proposed goal eight, entitled ‘Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.’ ”
He assured that an important aspect of the region’s thrust is the fact that the jobs created will be of such quality that is anticipated by the Decent Work Agenda.