Sod turned for official residence of Caricom SG

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Prime MInister Mark Phillips and outgoing Caricom SG Ambassador Irwin LaRocque turned the sod for the construction of an official residence for the Caricom Secretary-General at Sparendaam on Friday

The government of Guyana will be constructing an official residence for the Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) – a move which outgoing SG, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, says is reflective of the country’s commitment to the regional bloc.

Prime Minister, Retired Brigadier Mark Phillips, and Ambassador LaRocque participated in the simple sod-turning ceremony for the construction of the official residence of CARICOM SG at Sparendaam, East Coast Demerara.

Speaking briefly with reports after turning the sod on Friday, PM Phillips that government will be undertaking the project. He noted that while the details of the project are still being ironed out, the land was identified hence the sod-turning ceremony was held.

“It is our intention to have the building to house the Secretary-General constructed as early as possible. So what will happen now is the clearing of lands …we’re still in the design stage, where the architects will do their work and costing will be done, in consultation with the CARICOM Secretariat and the Secretary-General,” the Prime Minister explained.

This project was a commitment made by President Dr Irfaan Ali to Ambassador LaRocque shortly after taking office in August 2020.

The outgoing Caricom SG told the Guyana Times that the Guyanese leader committed to having this done and now the sod has been turned for construction to commence.

“He and I have been in discussions on various issues, and he has made a commitment to ensure that the Community and the Secretariat are appropriately supported to ensure its continuity of the integration arrangements and the appreciation for what CARICOM is doing and has done for Guyana,” the Caricom Head stated.

He went onto note that there had always been a need for an official residence for the Secretary-General and having recognised this, it was brought to the attention of President Ali.

According to Ambassador LaRocque, who is wrapping up his decade-long two-term tenure before handing over the reins to his successor, Dr Carla Natalie Barnett, in the new week, Friday’s sod-turning ceremony was very significant for the Secretariat.

“I think it demonstrates the commitment of the government of Guyana to CARICOM. You have to remember that this is the seat of the Headquarters of the Community and in very much the same way that the United Nations building has a meaning, it’s not just a building – the [CARICOM] Secretariat has a meaning and here will have a meaning as the official residence of the Secretary-General and it gives me great, great honour to turn the sod at least,” the outgoing SG posited.

Also present at the simple ceremony were the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Honourable Hugh Todd; Foreign Secretary within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Robert Persaud and Permanent Secretary of the said Ministry, Mrs Elizabeth Harper.