St Kitts and Nevis: Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis- Dr Terrance Drew, pledged to do his best to ensure that their decisions at this level redound to their benefit and, by extension, the people of the Caribbean Community during his address at the opening ceremony of the 44th CARICOM heads of government conference in Bahamas.
Outlining the ways of strengthening the Caribbean Community, PM Terrance Drew stated that they stand at crossroads, where the focus should be on the myriad challenges confronting them as a small island nation and low-lying coastal communities in an ever-increasingly volatile global environment.
He said that the challenges are well-known to them:
- Vulnerability to external economic shocks
- Heavy dependence on a few products or services
- Frequent and more intense natural disasters
- High cost associated with debt and climate change adaptation and mitigation.
- Economic recovery from the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Disruption in supply chains and steady increases in the cost of imports and production, exacerbated by the ongoing war in Ukraine, and
- Limited access to grants and concessional financing mechanisms to enable us to recover from external economic and environmental shocks.
He added that these overlapping challenges have been impacting various sectors and diverting their attention to their respective development agenda.
While hailing CARICOM, PM Terrance Drew asserted that they remained an effective forum for its members to carve out a space for dialogue. He asked to focus on the Multi-dimensional Vulnerability Index as a more holistic metric for addressing the complex issues he highlighted earlier.
PM Terrance Drew added, “The MVI Matrix is more closely aligned with the ever-present dangers they face on an annual basis, having to endure the ravages of natural disasters, including hurricanes, drought, volcanic eruptions, and rising sea levels.”
“Assessing our high GDP does not adequately consider our vulnerability to economic and climate-related shocks. The global development agenda demands the pursuit of a holistic approach to addressing vulnerability, and the provision of solutions that are consultative, effective, and sustainable,”said the prime minister.
PM Terrance Drew added that the time has come for international financial institutions to take positive action to address the realities we face and enable us not only to recover from national disasters but adapt to the existential threat of climate change by building stronger, more resilient communities to benefit the lives of our people.
St Kitts and Nevis remain committed to strengthening the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), which we regard as the training ground for engaging with the wider global economy. We believe in the free movement of skills, services, goods, capital, and all the other key elements of the CSME. We view the region as a single space for the people of our region to live, engage in robust economic activity and advance the economic, social, and cultural prospects of our region.
“It is difficult for us to extoll the virtues of the CSME without addressing the proverbial “elephant in the room” – intra-regional transport. The reality is that it is too difficult and too costly for the people of the region to move and enjoy the benefits of true integration within the single space which has been created for them to do so at optimal levels ,”said the prime minister.