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Caricom free movement for agricultural workers, beauticians, barbers, security guards

CARICOM Heads of Government held a Special Meeting on the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago from December 3 to 4, 2018. The Meeting looked at increasing the rate of implementation of the CSME and making sure the benefits are available for Community nationals. (CARICOM Secretariat photo)

Guyana and other Caribbean Community (Caricom) member countries have agreed to add agricultural workers,  security guards, barbers and beauticians to the list of persons eligible to move and work freely across the single market bloc.

Regional leaders, including Guyana’s Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Greenidge, struck the agreement at a December 3 to 4, 2018 meeting held in Trinidad.

“We will include agricultural workers, beauty service practitioners, barbers and security guards to the agreed categories of skilled nationals who are entitled to move freely and seek employment within the Community,” they said in the St. Ann’s Communique.

Coming along with the increased categories of persons who would be eligible for free movement across the community would be a beefing up of the security mechanisms. “We will reinforce the operation of our security mechanisms to ensure the integrity of the regime allowing the free movement of CARICOM nationals,” they said.

The already approved categories of persons entitled to work and live freely across the Single Market are university graduates with at least a Bachelor’s Degree or equivalent qualifications, such as ACCA qualifications parts one and two, musicians, artistes, sports persons, media workers, registered nurses, trained teachers, artisans, who have obtained Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ) Associate Degrees and equivalents (University Diplomas; Technical Institutes) – Diplomas, and Technician Certificates Parts one and two or CAT – Completed qualifications.

They also reiterated that a skills certificate issued by one Member State would be recognised by all Member States. Guyanese have over the years been complaining that even though they had been issued with a skills certificate by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, they still have to apply for another one in Trinidad.

While the Caricom leaders set a time frame of three years within which Caricom states that are willing would move towards full free movement, no specific time frame was given for adding the new categories of workers.

When Caricom leaders meet again in February 2019 for their mid-term summit, they said they would conduct a special session on air and maritime transportation, a “critical aspect of integration as a whole and the CSME in particular”.

Haiti is expected to be fully integrated into the Caricom Single Market by 2020.

Still in the area of free movement, the Caricom leaders agreed to explore the possibility of reintroducing a single-entry immigration processing system for multi-destination visitors as had been the case for Cricket World Cup. That, the leaders, indicated would have to be backed up a stiff security system.

“We will examine the re-introduction of the single domestic space for passengers in the Region; We have agreed to work towards having a single security check for direct transit passengers on multi-stop intra-Community flights,” they said.

The Caricom representatives, who included Barbados’ Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Keith Rowley and Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness, also agreed to amend the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas to include representatives of labour and the private sector as associate institutions at the Councils of the Community. The councils include those on trade and economic development, finance and planning, foreign policy, and human and social development.

In the area of business, the Caricom summit said the regime would be finalised to permit citizens and companies of the Community to participate in the Public Procurement processes in Member States by the year 2019. The leaders said they would also “take all necessary steps to allow for mutual recognition of companies incorporated in a CARICOM Member State”.  The Community Council has been tasked to develop appropriate recommendations on the proposal for the introduction of a regime of sanctions for the consideration of the Conference;

In an effort to reduce operational costs, Caricom leaders said they have mandated the Guyana-based Caricom Secretariat and the St.Lucia-based secretariat of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States to “deepen cooperation and collaboration” “to avoid duplication and maximise the utility of scarce resources”.

The Caricom leaders announced that they have appointed Professor Avinash Persaud to lead a restructured Commission on the Economy to advise Member States on a Growth Agenda for the Community

Other Members of the Commission on the Economy (CCE) are Chester Humphrey, Damien King, Georgy McGuire, Roger McLean, Wendell Samuel, P. B. Scott,  Therese Turner-Jones, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Pascal Lamy.