Barbados and other CARICOM Member States are drafting an action plan that will pave the way towards improving the quality of life of its people; facilitate strong economic growth; reduce poverty, unemployment and environmental degradation, and propel the Community forward.

This was underscored by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, as he was presented with the Third Draft of the CARICOM Strategic Plan 2015-2019, by Barbados??? Ambassador to CARICOM, Robert ???Bobby??? Morris, during a meeting last Friday at Ilaro Court to discuss the document.??

Ambassador Morris is Barbados??? representative on the ???Change Driver??? team, and is spearheading Barbados??? role in the process for change, as CARICOM Member States seek to map out their future over the next five years and beyond.

The meeting was also attended by Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, Senator Darcy Boyce; Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean, and her Permanent Secretaries Charles Burnett and Bentley Gibbs; Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister???s Office, Sonja Welch; and Chief Research Officer, Paula Byer.

The Draft Strategic Plan is designed to help CARICOM Member States refocus on priority objectives, change direction and reorganise, as mandated by CARICOM Heads of Government at their 23rd Inter-Sessional meeting, held in March 2012.??The plan also aims to transform the CARICOM Secretariat, improve its capacity and strengthen its corporate functions.

In his remarks at the start of the meeting, Mr Stuart said: ???We are living in a very hostile and competitive world, and the challenge for CARICOM nations is how to achieve integration and economic enfranchisement in such a hostile climate.??? He noted that in light of these realities, ???the Caribbean must design strategies that will ameliorate some of the problems that come our way???.

Ambassador Morris pointed out that the Strategic Plan examined key pillars of economic development, including the need to build economic, social, environmental and technological resilience. He noted that Barbados, like other Member States, was at the crossroads of its development and needed to rally around the creative talents of its people, facilitate innovation and implement mechanisms to unleash the potential for growth in key areas.

Ambassador Morris will present Barbados??? perspective to the CARICOM Secretariat after feedback via national consultations that will include discussions with the Leader of the Opposition and key stakeholders in the public and private sectors.??

The Draft was prepared through a process of feedback via a tele-survey and a youth online survey, and had the input of written submissions, interviews, research, as well as policies, programmes and proposals from the CARICOM Community and leading world authorities.??The final stage in the process will be a formal session of the CARICOM Heads of Government to ratify the document.

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