July 07, 2017
Dr. The Honourable Hubert Minnis, Prime Minister of The Bahamas has signalled his readiness to help deliver the mandates of CARICOM to provide better, healthier and more prosperous lives for the people of the Community.
In doing so, the newest Member of the Conference of Heads of Government also expressed confidence in organs and institutions of the Caribbean Community to deliver benefits of integration.
His inaugural address to the Community, at the opening of the 38th CARICOM Summit, in Grand Anse, Grenada, Tuesday evening, was punctuated with an urgent call for unity.
“Our people need us to act together to harness the tremendous mutual potential of the Region, while facing shared challenges,” he said urging his colleagues to forge ahead with mechanisms for environmental and economic sustainability, as well as regional and national security.
“We will become individually more successful when we become collectively more successful. Our people will know CARICOM is working for them when they can see, hear, taste and feel it for themselves,” the Bahamian Prime Minister stated.
Charging his colleagues to bring vigour and focused discipline to the task of economic development, he implored diligence in renewable energies from the sun, wind, oceans, rivers and lakes which are abundant in the Region.
Highlighting the nexus between tourism and sustainable development, he said as numbers increase from the just under 30 million stopover visitors the Region sees annually, the need is urgent for enhanced power generation, clean water, waste treatment and recycling.
These challenges can only be met with renewable solutions he said as he urged the Community to forge ahead with UN Climate protocols. “…our livelihoods and existence demand regional and global action to address climate change generally, and threats such as rising sea levels, depleted fish stocks, and the frequency and intensity of hurricanes.”
Noticeably keen for collective efforts to advance tourism, he urged the Community to leverage its comparative advantage.
“We must become more focused on finding ways to extract much more value from that area of our economies. It is time that we create marketing and product improvement programs based on facts.”
Emphasizing the importance of statistics in tourism he said: “By example, we should better appreciate the stored value that is waiting to be unleashed by the proper analysis of multi-year data from immigration cards and from the development of tourism satellite accounts. Tourism officials in The Bahamas are increasingly astonished by the information that such analyses are telling us, and the refreshing guidance that it is providing.”
Mr. Minnis said the Community should, in tandem, “more aggressively address perennial issues like regional air and sea transportation to make it easier and more affordable to move people and goods around the Caribbean, including citizens and residents of the region and visitors.”
Noting that the Conference was “much more than a problem-solving body”, he said in an encouraging tone: “We should revel in and celebrate our Caribbean imagination, which has created out of many cultures and histories, the brilliance and ingenuity of a new civilization called the Caribbean.
In academics, athletics and the arts, we have punched way above our weight and have offered the global commons the richness of the Caribbean tapestry, with its many threads. We must even more aggressively offer visitors more than just sun, sea and sand. We must promote the brilliance and bounty of our cultures and heritage.”
As he roused the spirit of Community, he said: “The responses to our challenges are not exclusive to this forum or even to the political domain. CARICOM is a community of the people we serve, not a club of officials and politicians. We need to cast our nets far and wide to engage the combined spirit and the collective brain-trust of the region. We must blend various languages and accents in order to speak to the world with one voice about the aspirations of our people and the mission of CARICOM.”
“The Bahamas is CARICOM’S northern border. In this spirit, allow me to paraphrase a Bahamian saying: “We are all one family.” From Georgetown, Guyana in the south to Walker's Cay, the northernmost point in The Bahamas: “We are all one family.” From Belmopan, Belize in the west to Bridgetown, Barbados in the east: “We are all one family.” It is so good to be here as a part of the CARICOM family.”
Newest member of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM, Dr. The Honourable Hubert Minnis, Prime Minister of The Bahamas delivering his inaugural address to the Conference, Tuesday 4 July 2017, Grand Anse, Grenada.
Please see the full text of the speech delivered by Dr. The Honourable Hubert Minnis, Prime Minister of The Bahamas at the opening of the 38th CARICOM Summit.