Days after a leaked email showed the Head of the CARICOM Private Sector Organization (CPSO) raising concerns about Guyana’s new local content laws, criticisms of double standards continue to mount.
Head of Guyana’s Medical Council Board Dr. Dr Navindranauth Rambaran has pointed out that while the 1991 Medical Practitioners Act is one that allows the easy integration of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) nationals into Guyana’s health sector, the same does not apply to Guyanese.
“… a physician who is fully registered in a Caricom state can easily have his/her credentials transferred to Guyana.
“The reverse is virtually impossible for a Guyanese physician,” Dr. Rambaran noted.
He posited that Guyana is among the most accommodating states in CARICOM, allowing Caribbean nationals to live and work here.
“… where else in the confines of the ever unfulfilled Caricom can any countryman, save for possibly the [Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS)], find such accommodation?” he questioned.
Importantly, this free movement of labour is part of the thrust of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME), an initiative birthed through the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.
According to information provided on CARICOM official website, the main objectives of the CSME are: full use of labour (full employment) and full exploitation of the other factors of production (natural resources and capital); competitive production leading to greater variety and quantity of products and services to trade with other countries.
And, for context, the Treaty of Chaguaramas is the central treaty of CARICOM of which Guyana is a founding member.
Recently, with the CPSO’s apparent opposition to Guyana’s new Local Content law, some members of the local private sector have questioned the value of Guyana’s participation in CSME. This is so because the country has faced numerous challenges to free trade and the free movement of goods and services.
President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) Timothy Tucker told the News Room on Tuesday that there have been several clear violations of the Treaty over the years – many from Trinidad and Tobago.
An example of this has been the trade of honey. Guyana is unable to transship honey exports through the Twin Island republic because of a decades-old law that prohibits the movement of the product within one mile of the island’s shores.
In 2015, Trinidad and Tobago fined Guyanese shipping company Laparkan for transporting honey in its waters.
Dr. Rambarran reminded Guyanese that in addition to these trade challenges, Guyanese travellers have been “hassled” at sister ports of entry.
“… automatic deportation of entire flights and, the infamous benches at certain ports have caused a latent but ever flaming grudge in our countrymen that can only be erased by reciprocity or unabashed apology,” the Medical Council Head pointed out.
And he, like many local private sector representatives, called on all stakeholders to act in a manner that is in the Guyanese interest and not “lip service agreements that are now being conveniently exhorted.”
“If culturally and by existing laws, Guyana’s human capital is not welcomed, good luck in getting our products accepted.
“Our Government, surely with ears to the ground, can feel the sentiments prevailing across Guyana. I urge them to act accordingly.
“We must in moving forward act in our interest and not dally too much in appeals to sense of fairness vis a vis lip service agreements that are now being conveniently exhorted.”