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Commonwealth Secretary-General visits Guyana

25 June 2015

Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma will arrive in Guyana on Saturday 27 June 2015 for a three-day visit, to gain a clear understanding of the region’s concerns and priorities.

Mr Sharma will call on recently elected President, H.E David Granger, and some of the members of his coalition Government.  He will also meet with the Speaker of Parliament and other key stakeholders in the country.

The visit will continue a series of high-level engagements in the Caribbean. Last week the Secretary-General met with recently elected St Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister, Hon Dr Timothy Harris, and attended the Commonwealth Conference of Education Ministers in The Bahamas. From Guyana Mr Sharma will travel to the CARICOM Heads of Government Conference in Barbados.

The trip to the region and consultation with heads of government is part of the Secretary-General’s preparations for the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), in Malta on 27-29 November 2015.

“The aim is to meet with as many Commonwealth leaders in the Caribbean as possible to ensure their concerns and priorities are reflected in the CHOGM agenda,” Mr Sharma said.

The Secretary-General will also address key issues affecting small states in the region, including ocean governance, climate change, education and youth empowerment, debt, trade, natural disaster management and access to development finance.

He said: “In addition to our advocacy work to raise the Caribbean’s concerns and needs on the global stage, the Commonwealth Secretariat is leading a number of cutting-edge initiatives that offer practical solutions to the challenges facing the Caribbean.

“For example, our debt management software, which is used in 60 countries worldwide, manages a global portfolio of more than US$ 2.5 trillion of public debt, including approximately US$ 50 billion in the Caribbean.

“Our Commonwealth 2013 debt restructuring exercise in Jamaica resulted in annual savings of approximately J$17 billion and a projected reduction of 8.8 per cent of debt-to-GDP by 2020.”  

The Secretary-General will also discuss the ground-breaking ‘Building the Resilience of Small States: A Strategic Vision for the Caribbean 2050’ project.

The initiative examines the underlying reasons for slow economic growth in the region and its findings were dubbed a “wake-up call” for governments.

The project proposes a set of decisive actions, including empowering the youth with creative and interpersonal skills through revamped curriculums; reinvigorating the spirit of entrepreneurship; political reform; utilising local resources to achieve 100 per cent renewable energy; improving employment opportunities for young people in the private and public sectors and securing access to development of finance.