Prime Minister Dean Barrow in his address at the opening ceremony of the 27th Inter-sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government CARICOM also spoke of the failure of the world economy to recover from the shock of a financial crisis that has had negative effects worldwide including on CARICOM member states. The topic was touched as the P.M discussed the drop in oil prices that has negatively affected our country and other countries who enjoyed the privileges of the PetroCaribe fund.


deanHonorable Dean Barrow – Prime Minister of Belize


“This would be a welcome offset to the continued volatility in our commodities sector. The global oil price rout has, in particular, been a double-edged sword for a couple of us. So we salute the recent petroleum discoveries in Guyana and look forward to that country being able to exploit those resources on its own terms; and we welcome the benefit to consumers that cheaper fuel has meant. But at the same time we regret the effect that both the contraction of production and the precipitate price drop have had here in Belize. And we note the even stronger detriment of the latter on public sector revenues in Trinidad and Tobago.  As well, the oil conundrum has severely constrained the flow of

resources to those of us that participate in the PetroCaribe arrangements. This is, of course, in consequence of the havoc done to Venezuela, the source of our erstwhile bounty.  To compound matters, it is clear that the oil price phenomenon is symptomatic of the more generalized weakening, to which I earlier alluded, in commodities markets. This worsens the crisis situation in public finances in certain parts of the Eurozone, so that altogether there appears to be a distinct possibility of the world economy sliding back into recession. The consequences that would entail for our region are both obvious and frightening.”


With so many problems facing CARICOM Countries, Prime Minister Barrow also sent out a very strong and important message to heads of Government of CARICOM member states, stating that in order to move forward and resolve issues affecting the region they must all join together and take a more proactive approach when handling difficult circumstances.

 

Honorable Dean Barrow – Prime Minister of Belize


“The modalities and logistics will take some working out but clearly are not beyond our skills.  Colleague Heads, Ladies and Gentlemen: I am trying to reiterate what we know only too well. The reality that forces us to acknowledge the limitations of individual smallness, is the same reality that obliges us to size-up both in terms of collective thinking and collective action. A precondition to this, though, is that we talk less and do more. If there is a perceived mismatch between

CARICOM rhetoric and CARICOM achievement, we need to tone down the rhetoric and step up the achievement. It may mean a lessening of grandiose goals. It may mean long-haul, quotidian grind to achieve incremental accomplishments. Drudgery in the garret rather than flash-in-the-pan brilliance. But the times do seem to require this sort of workmanlike focus to wring from difficult circumstances the kinds of realizable, measurable objectives our people deserve. And on the back of sustained slogging there is quite a bit we can do for ourselves even with respect to those generally recessionary global economic conditions about which I spoke earlier. But I repeat: stock taking now for purposes of a reset requires a

hard-headed assessment of where we are, where we need to go and how we get there. We need to settle on achievable goals for the immediate and medium term, and specify and take the necessary steps for realization on a time- and-action basis. In the process we may recognize, for example, that there is need for a workaround of the unbridgeable gap between our aspirations for a perfect single market and economy, and individual circumstance and sovereignty constraints. The nimbleness and flexibility that must be deployed to adjust to the changing world circumstances, may themselves

militate against the centralized management mechanism that a full CARICOM single economy posits. So that to be driven back to a reliance on the less lofty but more practical virtues of functional cooperation, may be no bad thing.”


CARICOM Heads began the session of the 27th Inter-sessional Meeting today, 16 February, and ends tomorrow, 17 February.

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