BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, July 10, 2018 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – Last week, Heads of Government of the different CARICOM Member States reaffirmed their commitment to the full implementation of a single market and the free movement of people across the region through the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
At the July 4-6 Thirty-Ninth Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), held in Jamaica, regional leaders made several significant commitments towards fast-tracking the CSME agenda. These include a decision to have the Prime Ministerial Sub-committee on the CSME meet quarterly, beginning in September 2018, to give urgency to the implementation process, as well as the adoption of the Protocol on Contingent Rights, which allows for dependents of persons with approved Skilled Certificates to be able to not only move freely across borders within the Caribbean with their loved-ones but also access basic social services.
Heads of Government also committed to advance those areas which were of “low hanging fruit” for a robust single market, such as an Investment Policy and Investment Code, an Incentives Regime, an Integrated Capital Market and Securities Legislation.
For his part, St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, called for an evaluation of the impact of free movement on Member States.
Prime Minister Harris is also of the view that St. Kitts and Nevis and Antigua and Barbuda can make valuable input as it relates to the free movement of people, noting that both countries are in a “unique position in that we receive steady flow of persons from the Dominican Republic, some of whom are entitled to citizenship through our Constitution.”
Dr. Harris pointed out, however, that there are still several challenges to overcome, including the reluctance of some people to the idea of free movement as it has implications on Member States’ social programmes, including health and education.
The prime minister further indicated that persons may also be reluctant to accept free movement “especially in light of the fact that our students have to pay exorbitant sums and sometimes as much as three times the tuition of residents of territories with UWI campuses.”
Given the tangible benefits respective citizenry can actually experience from the establishment of the CSME, a special meeting with the sole agenda item of the CSME has been scheduled for November, 2018, in Trinidad and Tobago.