Completing the protocols on procedures relating to the facilitation of travel for skilled persons within the Caribbean region will now be of high priority for CARICOM.
This was highlighted during a press conference yesterday hosted by Chairman of CARICOM, President David Granger, CARICOM Secretary-General, Irwin LaRocque and the next Chairman of CARICOM, Grenada’s Prime Minister Keith Mitchell.
According to Granger, following discussions on the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), for which a review was received, the matter of free movement of skilled persons was ventilated.
As the curtains came down on the 28th Inter-Sessional Meeting of The Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean, Granger said that the Conference agreed on priority areas to be addressed, including the completion of the protocol on procedures to facilitate travelling between member states.
Historically, the idea of free movement within the region was birthed in the 1989 Grand Anse Declaration. However, the original initiative has been adjusted over time. Under Article 45 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (RTC), member states have committed themselves to the goal of the free movement of their nationals within the region.
Some of the categories of skilled persons catered for under the RTC are musicians, artists, graduates, media personnel and sports athletes. To facilitate entry into another member state, persons must have a Certificate of Recognition of CARICOM Skills Qualification. Upon entry, a person should be granted an automatic six-month stay.
Granger, in his opening statement stressed that during the course of the Conference, leaders reflected on the importance of the CARICOM ‘Brand’ and the pride persons should have in their citizenship, citizenry and membership.
“Every citizen of this Community must count; every citizen of this Community has rights, and, wherever our citizens are, they have the right to be treated as Caribbean citizens.
There is no such thing as a ‘stateless person’ in our Community. There should be no such occurrence as a citizen of a Caribbean state being treated as inferior in any jurisdiction in the Community.”
During his remarks at the opening session of the Conference, Granger said that the CSME has the potential to enhance private sector growth and competitiveness by providing access to a larger pool of resources, facilitating the movement of human capital, catalysing the establishment of regional businesses and encouraging the free movement of goods.
He urged leaders not to allow the CSME to become a victim of equivocation and procrastination.
CARICOM Secretary-General Irwin LaRocque had said during this Conference that considerable progress has been made in implementing the CSME. According to him, this progress is evident in the legal and institutional measures and mechanisms put in place to support the free movement of goods, services, skills and cross-border establishment of business. However, he said that there is much more to be done.
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