In a message for the New Year, Dr. Rowley, expressed the 'renewed hope of coming out of the darkness' in 2021, with the promise of the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel being provided by the Covid-19 vaccine which offers the possibility of relief from the health, social and economic challenges posed by the pandemic, he said.
In this regard, he urged the consolidation of discipline among the population and the maintenance of established protocols to prevent the spread of the virus, and noted that reducing the pressure on health systems will directly benefit the economic and financial situation.
Rowley also called for benefiting from the potential offered by the Caricom Single Market and Economy, which provides for free movement of people, goods and labor among member countries, the role of the private sector and issues related to education and other areas.
In this regard, he urged to push ahead plans related to that initiative that may have been marginalized by the urgent needs of 2020 as 'a priority to help us get out of the negative socioeconomic outlook that has been predicted.'
Rowley highlighted the example set by Caricom in adversity and pointed out that this is the approach needed to transform the Caribbean community in the post-Covid-19 era and beyond.
The following is the full text of The Chairman's message to the CARICOM community:
The Community has signed on to the COVAX Facility and looks forward to receiving its quota as soon as it becomes available in the New Year. However, it will not be an immediate panacea for the ills brought upon us by the virus.
The relatively successful management of the health aspects of COVID-19 by the concerted effort of all arms of the Community – Member States, Institutions and the citizens – demonstrated without a doubt that the answer to COVID is CARICOM!
In the recovery phase, we must employ the same collective, coordinated and focussed 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.
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.
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.
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.
As Chairman of the Caribbean Community, I wish you all a Happy New Year and please stay safe.
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