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The Change Facilitation Team based at the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat has expressed satisfaction at the response by participants at the Guyana national consultations on a Five-year Strategic Plan for the trade bloc. The Strategic Plan is a critical part of the Reform process within CARICOM, which has been initiated by the Conference of Heads of Government.
Speaking on behalf of the Team, Ms Maria Mason-Roberts said "very solid recommendations and ideas have been put forward" during the sessions which began on Monday. Ms Mason-Roberts praised the organization of the consultations by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, led by Ambassador Elisabeth Harper who has been appointed the Change Driver for Guyana. Heads of Government approved the outline of the Strategic Plan at their Inter Sessional Meeting held in Haiti, last February and agreed to appoint Change Drivers in each Member State with overall responsibility for coordinating and facilitating the Change Process at the national level.
The Change Drivers are coordinating the national consultations which are scheduled to be held in all Member States and Associate Members. The first was held in Barbados last June with Guyana as the second to be followed by Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Lucia, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago scheduled for September. The Bahamas, Belize, Haiti, Jamaica and St Kitts and Nevis are scheduled for October. The consultations in Member States will include stakeholder groups including Heads of Government, Leaders of the Opposition, Members of Parliament, representatives of Business, Labor, Youth and other civil society groups, CARICOM Institutions and other regional organizations with headquarters in the Member State.
These consultations are intended to address the Vision, Mission and Core Values of the Caribbean Community; Priority Areas for the attention of the Community in the period 2014-18; and the most appropriate and efficient governance and management structures for the Community.
The recruitment of a Change Facilitation team resulted from discussions among Heads of Government at their Inter-sessional Meeting in Suriname in 2012 after receiving a report on the Review of the Secretariat. The leaders agreed that it was necessary to re-examine the future direction of the Community and the arrangements for carrying this forward which would include the role and function of the CARICOM Secretariat. The Strategic Plan will, among other things, identify the priority areas of focus for the Community and guide the restructuring of the Secretariat.
The facilitation team, which has a three-year mandate, is being assisted with resources from the Government of the United Kingdom through the Department for International Development (DFID) and began work in the CARICOM Secretariat last November.
Over the years since its creation in 1973, CARICOM members have developed the Single Market and Economy, a single economic space within the community, exempting most goods and services from export and import duties. As part of the Single Market and Economy, CARICOM applies a common external tariff, which applies uniform duties on the import of goods from outside of the community with revenues shared among member states. In addition, through CARICOM, Caribbean nations have concluded Free Trade Agreements, to reduce tariff and non-tariff barriers between CARICOM and other nations to boost the region's capacity to trade globally.
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