It is expected that a review of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) and free movement mechanism will be undertaken as well as a multimedia campaign to educate Caribbean nationals on the workings of the movement.
This was one outcome of the 37th Conference of the Heads of Government of CARICOM which was announced at a press conference hosted last evening, at the Pegasus Hotel. The press conference was hosted by Prime Minister of Dominica, Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit, President David Granger, co-host of the Meeting and Secretary-General of CARICOM, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque.
Prime Minister Skerrit said that the matter of the CSME and free movement engaged the attention of all of the Heads of Government, during their deliberations. A decision he said, was taken for a comprehensive review to be undertaken and the findings will be considered at the next Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Heads of Government, which will take place next February in Guyana.
“That is in an effort to take the process forward and not to change any of the decisions we have taken thus far. It will strengthen the integration process. In the meantime, we are going to intensify an educational media campaign in member states, aimed at all levels of society. The Programme will highlight the benefits and provisions of the CSME… We are fully committed to implementing the CSME regime as we are fully convinced that it’s our only option to achieving sustainable growth and development in the Caribbean region,” Prime Minister Skerrit said.
He noted that with respect to free movement, among the more significant issues, were the addressing of the concerns of citizens in taking advantage of the free movement regime.
Guyanese have over the years complained of the treatment meted out to them during this travels to various CARICOM states, while Jamaica is currently working to resolve their issues in that regard with Trinidad and Tobago.
“Even though the overwhelming majority of citizens are moving through the community without hindrance, we do have instances of denial of entry at our ports and this is a matter, we believe, has to be addressed and addressed urgently as we are aware of the negative views which surface when these instances occur,” the Chairman of CARICOM said.
Prime Minister of Jamaica, Hon. Andrew Holness, also spoke on the issue earlier, noting that it must be addressed. He has committed to engaging the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago to begin the process of rectifying this, especially for his countrymen.
“The idea that the movement of people should be treated as equally as the movement of goods is one which I believe is now in the understanding of the CARICOM agreements. Before, most of the discussion was on the free movement of goods. Now, there is lobbying for all the Heads to recognise that the free movement of labour is important if this is to work,” Prime Minister Holness said.
In the meantime, the Community has granted its approval for a review of the CARICOM’s Crime and Security Strategy (CCSS) to ensure that there is coordination between national security plans and the strategy, as well as the signing of an arrest warrant treaty, which will see perpetrators of crime being arrested in any of the CARICOM states and deported back to their homeland to face prosecution.
“Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACTS) continue to play an important role in our effort to address crime and security… We agreed that urgent steps should be taken for completion of critical regional security agreements. We’re placed as a priority on the completion of CARICOM, arrests warrant treaty. This is a matter we have been discussing for some time now and I believe that Heads are resolved to having this particular agreement entered into before the end of 2016. This, we believe, will enhance security of our region and is a matter in which Heads are fully in support of,” Prime Minister Skerrit told media operatives.
Guyana will assume chairmanship of the Community in January and will host the Thirty Eight Regular Meeting of the Conference of the Heads of Government.