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Guyana concerned about duplication of CSME certificate process

Foreign Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett in background addressing the House Foreign Relations Committee.

Guyana remains concerned that St. Lucia and, Trinidad and Tobago are asking Guyanese to apply in those countries for Caricom Free Movement Certificates although they would have been already certified by the Foreign Ministry here.

Foreign Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett raised the issue at a presentation to the House’s Foreign Relations Committee last week. She said Guyana has been receiving a “very small number” of complaints from Guyanese living in those sister regional states.

“In some territories, they ask them to go over the process for that certificate to be reissued by that government,” she told the committee that included government MPs Neend Kumar and Jafer Ali as well as the lone opposition MP, Winston Felix. Government MP Bibi Shadick chaired the session.

The minister said Guyana has been raising the issue in the decision-making fora of the 15-nation Caricom. “We have bee raising the issue of duplication at the level of CARICOM because this is not how it’s supposed to work,” she said.

“It’s supposed to be the same in the other territories once it meets their qualifications,” she added.

Guyana issued 27 Free Movement of Skilled Nationals Certificates between 1997 and 2012.

Figures presented to the Foreign Relations Committee show that 3,877 wage earners have been issued with Free Movement of Skilled Nationals Certificates since 1997. Of them, 1626 were males and 2,251 were females.  They included 2,749 university graduates, 49 registered nurses, 146 trained teachers, 106 sport persons and 49 media workers.

The year in which the highest number of certificates was issued was 2008 with 547 and the second highest was last year when 386 were handed out.

While Guyana’s Foreign Ministry says it does not collect data on the destinations of Guyanese, she noted that 21,358 Guyanese entered Barbados between 2007 and 2012. Those refused entry to Barbados were 2,128.

That statistic was contained in evidence during the immigration case of Jamaican Shanique Myre versus the Barbados government.

Other complaints, Foreign Minister Rodrigues-Birkett said her ministry had received from Guyanese up to 2011, were the lengthy period it takes to obtain work permits, and passports being held by immigration authorities in a number of countries until they were ready to leave the country.