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So serious are the issues facing the region that its leaders have decided to restructure the CARICOM Development Fund to enable it to raise additional monies from individuals, companies, institutions, regional countries and extra regional countries.

CARICOM Chairman, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, made this announcement on Wednesday, during a press conference on the final day of the 31st Inter-sessional Meeting of the Conference of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

Ms. Mottley said the issue of the Fund and its management was one that had “bedevilled the Community for some time”, noting that it was created as a way to assist disadvantaged countries, sectors, and regions.

She said: “Member states have committed to capitalizing this Fund, but this will never be enough to do what needs to be done, particularly with all of the challenges that the region faces at this point in time.  Yesterday, I outlined a number of them and we keep seeing new challenges as we did with the COVID-19, and to that extent, therefore, we feel strongly that we need to revisit the structure of the CARICOM Development Fund.”

 She stated that the restructuring would be long-term, explaining that the Fund would ultimately drive the development of regional institutions that had been taken over by technological developments which made them obsolete or incapable of being competitive.

As a result, she said a transition period was needed since a middle developed country that was affected by a climatic or other event would require an injection of capital in order to stabilize it.

She mentioned that going forward, once the restructuring was done correctly, the Fund would be one of the key pillars of the integration movement, allowing leaders to deal with the disparities that exist as far as size and capacity were concerned, and carrying all nations from the very large to the very smallest ones on the integration journey.

The CARICOM Chairman opined that in any Single Market and Single Economy there would be winners and losers, pointing out that this decision by heads of government would “make a significant difference” to the region’s development.

At the end of the two-day summit, a number of agreements were signed. Dominica signed the Protocol on the Public Procurement and an agreement on the Return or Sharing of Recovered Assets; the British Virgin Islands signed an agreement for the establishment of the Caribbean Accreditation Authority for the Education in Medicine and other Health Professions; and St. Vincent and the Grenadines signed the Protocol on Public Procurement and Declaration of Intent to Provisionally Apply the Protocol on Public Procurement.

CARICOM Heads of Government will meet in St. Vincent and the Grenadines for their Regular summit from July 2 to 3, but they have promised to confer before that date by teleconference.

cathy.lashley@barbados.gov.bb

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