Jamaica In Full Support of Free Movement of CARICOM Nationals Within Region

Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade

Source : Jamaica Gleaner

FOREIGN AFFAIRS and Foreign Trade Minister Kamina Johnson Smith has declared Jamaica’s full support for the free movement of all CARICOM nationals within the region, a move that will go beyond the current regime under the Caribbean Single Market and Economy, which allows for the free movement of agreed categories of skilled workers.

During a meeting of the Standing Finance Committee of Parliament on Wednesday evening, Opposition spokesman on industry, competitiveness and global logistics, Anthony Hylton, quizzed Johnson Smith on Jamaica’s position regarding CARICOM’s thrust to open up free movement of nationals within the regional space.

Johnson Smith told lawmakers in the Lower House that coming out of the recent CARICOM meetings the heads of government committed to carry out work on the new arrangement but will consider amendments to provide for a transitional period of three years.

She said proposals are also being made to amend the treaty to secure minimum benefits to a CARICOM national if she moved to live in another CARICOM state.

Johnson Smith observed that one member state had indicated that it would not be participating in the move.

The Antigua and Barbuda government has said it would not be participating in the full free movement of CARICOM nationals. It contends that full free movement is too much for the country at this point in time.

The Antiguan Government is reported to have said that if it allowed the unrestricted flow of CARICOM nationals into its country, it would overwhelm its social services and other aspects of life in the small island.

Reiterating Jamaica’s support for full free movement within CARICOM, Johnson Smith said, “The ability to move and work and live would be the most profound way in which nationals can experience CARICOM in a real way.”

She said Jamaica continues to play its part in the intergovernmental task force, which is responsible for all the technical work.

“I know that they are meeting with the legal affairs committee, as well as all the different arms that are going to be necessary to propose the amendments to the treaty and to propose some clear policy decisions that heads will have to take later this month.”

CARICOM heads of government are expected to meet in another week to sign-off on arrangements that would facilitate the free and full movement of CARICOM nationals by the end of March.

During a recent press conference following the 46th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM, held in Georgetown, Guyana, Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley said that the Caribbean Community was on track to fulfil the mandate of the regional body at its 50th historic meeting in Trinidad and Tobago last year.

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