President of Suriname His Excellency Desi Bouterse has encouraged the Region to further diversify its offerings on the economic market. He was speaking at the Opening Ceremony of the Thirty-Seventh Meeting of the Conference of the CARICOM Heads of Government on Monday July 4, 2016 in Georgetown Guyana.
President Bouterse highlighted that the Region faced a number of economic challenges especially now that other world economies were declining. According to him CARICOM Member States could no longer be dependent on extractor sectors such as oil, gold and other mining products which were now confronted with some challenges. He said that although there had been recent improvements in the prices of oil and gold, the old prices for these commodities would not return in the foreseeable future.
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“Even if the prices were to increase substantially, we cannot keep running our economies on prices that are so unstable,” the President of Suriname said.
President Bouterse said that small and medium-sized economies like the ones in the CARICOM Region had almost no effect on market prices of commodities. As such he implored the Region to diversify its economies by developing service industries to the point where they became solid earners characterised by sustainability. He said that states that were dependent on the extractive sectors needed to get together to discuss meaningful ways to shift from export of commodities.
We have to join hands both nationally and regionally to consider effective ways to seriously improve service sectors and productivity,” he said.
He outlined that Member States dependent on the tourism sector also had a similar challenge since there had been notable declines in the number of tourists travelling to the Region. He urged the CARICOM Secretariat to establish a connection with experts who could advise on innovative ways of creating new packages for international tourists. He further said that it was important for the Region to improve the quality of the services provided to the world.
The Suriname President said that in order to address the challenges, the Region needed to reduce dependency on fossil fuels and increase renewable energy. He said the Region would also need to promote more sustainable sectors in its economies. He said the development of sustainable energy sources such as solar power and power generated by the use of waste should become prime targets.
The issue of climate change was another matter raised by the President of Suriname. He was particularly concerned with the inundation of coastlines in the Region as the sea rises. He said the 22nd Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (Cop 22) presented the Region with an opportunity to become more specific on its positions regarding the results of Cop 21 which was signed off recently in New York.
In closing, the President of Suriname expressed his excitement about the multilateral and bilateral talks that would ensue during the meeting and warmly welcomed the new leaders who recently joined the conference of the CARICOM Heads.